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Volleyball standout shot while on phone with mom

Megan Boken center was killed Saturday when she was St. Louis her way play an alumni volleyball game St. Louis

Megan Boken, center, was killed Saturday when she was in St. Louis on her way to play in an alumni volleyball game at St. Louis University.

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Updated: September 21, 2012 6:28AM

Wheaton native Megan Boken apparently was shot to death while parked on a St. Louis street while talking to her mother on her cell phone because the call ended abruptly, her former coach said Monday.

Boken’s mother tried unsuccessfully several times to call her back, then began calling the parents of several of Boken’s former teammates who were at an alumni volleyball game at St. Louis Univeresity in which Boken was supposed to play, said Anne Kordes, her college coach.

“She was on the phone with her mom, then the call went dead, and there was static,” Kordes said of Megan.

Her former teammates and their parents already were wondering where Boken was because they had expected her at the game.

The phone calls from Lisa Boken prompted some parents to leave to look for Boken and ultimately prompted someone to contact police, Kordes said. That’s when they learned that a young woman had been shot only two miles de the school — a victim identified later as Boken.

St. Louis police on Monday said the Boken’s killer likely tried to rob her before shooting her to death, according to a published report.

Police said they had no indication Boken, 23, knew her killer, and are treating it as a likely attempted robbery, according to a report Monday in the St. Louis Post Dispath.

Boken was a 2011 St. Louis University graduate.

On Saturday, Boken didn’t show up for warm-ups. And then the volleyball standout missed the alumni game.

That’s when friends became worried.

The St. Francis High School graduate was found shot in the neck and chest inside her car at 2:20 p.m., according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

It happened 25 minutes before she was expected at the gym where she spent her collegiate career and outside an apartment where records suggest she once lived. She was pronounced dead at a St. Louis hospital.

“To all be there together and find out together,” said former teammate Ashley Gaillot said, “it was unreal.”

People who knew Boken, who knew the smile she’d flash that made her so much fun on the volleyball court, said it’s unbelievable to hear she’s gone.

Anne Kordes, who recruited Boken to SLU and coached her for four years, said Boken played with “so much heart” and had great a sense of humor.

“She’s always making people feel good, making people crack up ­— adults as well as her peers ,” said Kordes, now head women’s volleyball coach at the University of Louisville. Boken, who had moved back to the Chicago area, played on SLU’s Billikens volleyball team from 2007 to 2010. She graduated with a business degree in 2011.

Boken worked as a financial adviser for Edward Jones in Wheaton from September through June, according to her LinkedIn page.

“Megan was a vibrant young woman and a wonderful representative of Saint Louis University and Billiken athletics,” director of athletics Chris May said in a statement. “In addition to being a great student, she was an outstanding athlete and an important part of our championship volleyball teams.

“All the qualities we value in a Saint Louis student-athlete were reflected in Megan. She contributed as much in the classroom and in the community as she did on the court. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”

Kordes can be seen in an online video posted in 2010 congratulating Boken on her “senior day.”

“I cannot even recall her ever missing a practice,” Kordes said, “much less a match.”

That could be one reason teammates like Gaillot seemed so troubled when Boken didn’t arrive for the warm-up Saturday. Witnesses told police they saw a man fire two shots into Boken’s car before fleeing. Police said they were trying to figure out Sunday if the shooting was caught by a surveillance camera.

The man either got out of her Volkswagen or opened its door, witnesses told police. Boken and the man appeared to be arguing and shouting, according to the Post-Dispatch.

Gaillot insisted Boken could not have known the man who shot her.

“Who would want to do anything to hurt her?” Gaillot said. “Why would she have known him?”

A statement from Boken’s family also sought to dispell suggestions Boken knew her killer.

“Megan was a wonderful and beautiful human being, loved by everyone she met,” said family friend Mary Pataki. “The family and community are devastated by this senseless tragedy, and the family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support.

“The initial reports that Megan knew her attacker are no longer believed to be true. The family asks that you keep Megan and them in your thoughts and prayers, and respect their privacy at this time.”

Boken was named to the 2006 Sun-Times All-Area volleyball team and an all-state team when she played for Wheaton St. Francis High School. There she was a member of the Spartans’ 2004 and 2006 state championship teams.

News of Boken’s death reached her former coaches and those who’d watched her grow as a volleyball player.

Boken had returned home fairly recently after working for a year in the St. Louis area following graduation. Boken attended several of her younger sister’s summer league games at the Sports Performance Volleyball Club where she and her high school coach, Peg Kopec, had talked on many occasions.

“She was a bright, beautiful, caring, joyful young woman,” Kopec said.

Kopec was at home Saturday when she learned about the shooting. Kopec invited members of her current team to her home Saturday to allow them to share their grief and concern for their teammate. Other members of the close-knit St. Francis volleyball family, including past players, also stopped by.

Boken played for Sports Performance Volleyball Club in Chicago in the late summer/fall seasons through her high school years.

“Megan was a joy to be around not only as a player, but also as a person,” said club director Rick Butler. “She had a deep, booming laugh that lit up a room and made everyone around her smile when they heard it. We will miss her dearly.. Our prayers and deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends.”

Contributing: Associated Press and Kim Janssen

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