Kane County Chronicle Girls Volleyball Player of the Year: Addy Horner, St. Francis, setter, junior

St. Francis’ Addy Horner plays the ball against Morton in the 3A state semifinal Friday, Nov. 10, 2023 at CEFCU Arena in Normal.

WHEATON – It doesn’t take long for Addy Horner to assert herself on the volleyball court.

The 6-foot-3 St. Francis junior setter gets going from the opening serve with relentless pursuit. She is the high-caliber athlete a consecutive state title winning team can expect to see when the lights go on.

St. Francis won its second consecutive state championship and 14th in program history on Nov. 11 to cap a 34-8 season. The Spartans defeated Lincoln 23-25, 25-23, 26-24 to win it all. On a team with 10 seniors – and one in which any number of players can catch fire – Horner is quick to deflect her personal successes toward her teammates.

“She’s one of the most humble kids of her caliber that we’ve ever had,” St. Francis coach Lisa Ston said. “If you ever ask her, you know, ‘Why are you so good?’ or ‘How did you get 12 kills in this match?,’ she will never credit herself. She always credits her teammates, her setter and her coaches. To be someone of that caliber and not hardly ever take credit for her ability, I think is pretty unique to her.

“Also, when you get kids of her caliber, they tend to be super serious ... (and) getting awards is something they are looking for. For her, she is not a super serious kid. She is super funny and at practice she will be the first one who is dancing. ... She has a very funny, loose in-game personality, which I think helps because she can be intimidating as a teammate to play next to, but she’s really not.”

St. Francis’ Addy Horner goes up for a kill during a Class 3A St. Francis Sectional Semifinal against Sycamore in Wheaton on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023.

The Wisconsin commit led St. Francis in kills (267), kills per set (3.2) and hitting percentage (34). Horner also had 50 aces, 258 assists and 75 blocks.

Considering her overall season, Horner is the 2023 Kane County Chronicle Girls Volleyball Player of the Year.

For anyone watching her on the court or later on film, the following is what Horner wants people to see:

“I want them to see me as someone who is never taking a play off. I try, after a play ends, just get ready for the next one and always hustling and never giving up on a ball,” Horner said. “Also, just being a leader. I try to keep the energy super calm and keep everyone calm and controlled throughout the game, even through the really tough moments, and also through the really highs and really lows. I try to keep everyone super even and confident.”

Her all-around game, whether it be the crafty dump kill, defensive anticipation for blocks and getting other attackers set up, is what helps Horner stand above the rest.

“I’ve worked really hard these past couple years so when I go in, not just to work on my setting or hitting, incorporating defense,” Horner said. “My goal is not to be super talented in one area of the game. I think to be successful, I think it’s important to be (even-keeled) in all of them, so I’ve worked really hard the past couple of years to be better at that.

“I’m proud of my defense. It’s come a long way. That’s probably, in my opinion, the weakest part of my game. But I’m trying to make it all [even].”

With her senior year still to come, there presents a unique challenge: preparing for a rare three-peat and continuing to instill the winning culture that St. Francis has become known for so long.

“I think what is special about St. Francis is it’s a lot more than a volleyball team,” Horner said. “So I think with the 10 seniors leaving and all these new girls (soon coming in), one of my main goals is just to show them the type of respect we have for each other, the work ethic that we put in every single day in practice and showing them what our team is really about. Our morals and all the stuff coach Ston has taught us.

“And really bringing them into the family it truly is.”