St. Edward graduate Enza Ranallo is hitting her collegiate stride.
Ranallo, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, is leading the Benedictine University women's basketball team in both scoring and rebounding through the first 7 games of the 2013-2014 season.
Through Wednesday, Ranallo was averaging a team-best 12.1 points to go with a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game. She's shooting .411 from the field and .833 from the free-throw line. Ranallo is averaging 28.1 minutes per game.
In the first seven games, Ranallo led the team in scoring. She had 20 points in a game against North Central, 19 against Gosten, 15 against Alverno and 10 against Concordia Wisconsin. She has been the team's top rebounder in three of the first seven games.
Ranallo's breakout season comes on the heels of earning honorable mention all-NAC honors as a sophomore when she averaged 6.3 points per game (26 games played, 12 starts). Ranallo also played in 26 games as a freshman.
"Last year it took me awhile to get into the groove of things," she said. "I've been able to jump right in this year and am able to be a more active participant with the team. This year I'm proving myself. Last year I showed what I am capable of doing. I've been able to start right away this year scoring the ball and rebounding the ball and helping my team right from the start."
Ranallo enjoys playing near the rim.
"Coach (Kristen Gillespie) always tells us we're at our best when we are attacking and getting in that kill zone in the lane," she said. "I try and attack the basket and get in the lane and get to the basket. There is something about attacking the lane and putting a move on a defender and scoring the basketball that is especially rewarding."
Ranallo is a big fan of the teachings of Gillespie.
"High school basketball was great and I loved the time there," she said. "Jumping into college and learning from coach Gillespie has been great. She has all these different techniques and ideas and concepts. She's made me a better player. She's taught me all these basketball things I never knew I could apply to the game."
Ranallo has been an NAC scholar athlete each of her first two years at Benedictine. She is studying nutrition with a minor on biology.
"I plan on getting my Ph.D. and master's in homeopathic medicine," she said. "I love Benedictine. It's nice and quaint and small. You have a close circle of friends here."
Ranallo isn't the only person on the team with that last name. Her freshman sister, Rena, is a 5-7 guard on the team. She played in each of the team's first 7 games and averaged 1.4 points per game during that span while shooting .500 from the field.
"Rena knows my game better than I know my game," Enza Ranallo said. "She knows all my tricks and can read me. She's a great defender. She knows exactly what to do and when to do it against me. I have to challenge myself when I am playing against her. I can't be mediocre when I'm playing against her. One practice coach was keeping stats and I think I had 10 turnovers against Rena."
Rena Ranallo said she is adjusting nicely to the collegiate game, but admits it can be challenging.
"It's a lot tougher this season," she said. "I get beat up on the court taking the ball to the basket. I'm getting some playing time. It's a lot different from high school. You have to be tough when you get the ball."
Rena Ranallo added her high school athletic experience at St. Edward helped prepare her for the rigors of women's college basketball.
"I played three sports in high school," she said. "It's just as demanding doing that. I like it here because I can focus on basketball. The practices are a lot more demanding and intense. The speed of the game here is a lot different and the girls are a lot more intense. The shot clock threw me off a bit at first because I would forget about it."
Rena Ranallo also is enjoying the time she spends with her older sister.
"It's kind of different because I'm on a new team with a new coach who works with all our strengths," she said. "But it's still the same when I'm with her just like it was in grade school and high school. Enza is showing me the ropes and how to work hard in order to get a spot on the floor."
Rena Ranallo, who is studying biology and would like to be a physician's assistant, agrees with her sister's statement about knowing all her moves.
"Enza tries to do pass fakes and I instantly steal them because I know what she does," she said. "I enjoy playing with her. We play to each other's strengths and help each other with our weaknesses."
Benedictine was 1-5 overall and 2-3 in conference play through midweek.
Locals at Loras: Two local products were part of the Loras College men's soccer team that advanced to the Division III national semifinals in San Antonio.
South Elgin alum Bryan Irwin was a sophomore midfielder on the team. He played in 22 games this season and had one goal. He took 9 shots on goal. His lone goal this season was a game-winner.
Fellow South Elgin product Joe McCullough was a senior forward on the team who played in 3 games this season.
Loras dropped a 3-2 decision in overtime to Rutgers-Camden in the national semifinals.
Dumoulin at Northern Illinois: Hampshire graduate Alex Dumoulin is a junior forward on the Northern Illinois University women's basketball team. A former standout at Elgin Community College, Dumoulin is averaging 3.7 points and 2.7 rebounds per game through the team's first seven contests. Dumoulin played an average of 11.3 minutes per game in the those first seven games.
Off at College wants your help: Send information and/or statistics on Fox Valley area athletes playing collegiately to Mike Miazga at ">firstname.lastname@example.org