Lemont High School senior Cara Howell has committed to play women’s volleyball at North Central College beginning in Fall 2014. Howell joins fellow senior Kelly Ferguson (Austin Peay State University) as members of Lemont’s volleyball program who will continue their careers at the intercollegiate level next year.
A 5-foot-11 right side hitter, Howell earned three varsity letters and steadily improved each season under head coach Chris Zogata. During her tenure, Lemont posted a 75-37 composite record, which included a near-flawless 36-3 record in South Suburban Conference play. The Indians won three straight SSC Blue titles and one IHSA Regional crown, while also posting one IHSA Sectional finalist finish. A two-time all-conference selection, Howell totaled 420 kills, 31 service aces and 140 blocks (28 solo) over three seasons and finished as a career .263 hitter. She established new career highs in kills, blocks, hitting percentage, kills per game and blocks per game in each of her varsity seasons
Howell closed her career with her finest season, repeating as an All-SSC performer while also being tabbed as an all-area pick by the Joliet Herald News and Suburban Life Newspapers. She led the team with a career-high 169 kills and ranked second on the squad with 58 blocks (14 solo) and a .320 hitting percentage - each of which also represented single- season career bests. Tabbed with the team’s “Best Hitter” award, Howell posted per-game averages of 2.01 kills and 0.69 blocks. Lemont posted a 27-9 record and won the SSC Blue title.
Howell earned her first all-conference citation as a junior in 2012 after totaling 159 kills (1.87 per game), ranking second on the squad with 31 service aces, and finishing third on the squad with 46 blocks (10 solo) and a .270 hitting percentage. She also was honored with the team’s “Best Server” award. Lemont finished 26-13 overall and captured the SSC Blue crown after finishing with a 12-1 league record. The Indians moved to Class 4A in 2012, and captured an IHSA Regional title and finished as the sectional runner-up to the eventual state champion.
Howell moved into the line-up as a sophomore in 2011, totaling 92 kills and 36 blocks. The Indians finished 22-15 overall and 12-1 in SSC play, which earned them a conference title.
A high honor roll student and National Honor Society member who has played club volleyball for 1st Alliance, Howell will play for head coach Karen Bunkenburg at North Central College, an NCAA Division III institution located in Naperville, Ill., and a member of the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW). Bunkenburg, who has had two stints leading the Cardinals, is the winningest coach in the program’s history, having amassed 281 wins over 13 seasons. She has guided her teams to eight 20-win seasons, including the 2009 campaign when the Cardinals won a school-record 35 matches and advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time.