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2014 Eighth Grade Volleyball State Tournaments Begin Saturday

For the eighth time in Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) history four champions will be crowned in the Eighth Grade Girls State Volleyball Tournament series. Competition in the Class 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A State Final Tournaments begins Saturday (March 22) and concludes Tuesday (March 25) at four sites.

Class 1A will be played at Hartsburg-Emden High School. Class 2A will be played at Auburn High School. Tolono Unity Junior High School will be the site of Class 3A. Rochester Junior High School will host Class 4A.

The time schedule for all four tournaments will be the same. Upper bracket quarterfinals and semifinals will be played in the morning. Lower bracket quarterfinals and semifinals will be played beginning Saturday afternoon. The upper bracket quarterfinals are scheduled for 10:00 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. The winners meet in the semifinal at 1:00 p.m. The lower bracket quarterfinals are scheduled for 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The winners meet in the semifinal at 5:15 p.m. Third place and championship matches will be played Tuesday with the third place match set for 5:30 p.m. and the championship match scheduled for 6:45 p.m.

Any changes in the playing status of each of the four tournaments will be posted on the IESA Website at www.iesa.org as each tournament progresses. 

The price of admission Saturday is $7.00 for adults and $3.00 for seniors (62 and over) and students (K-8) and is good for all games Saturday. Children younger than kindergarten are admitted free. Fans attending the games Saturday will receive a wristband that is to be worn all day and will be used for entry into that respective state final site only throughout the day. It will not be honored at any other 7th grade state final site. The price of admission for the third place and championship game session Thursday will be $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for seniors and students (K-8). Children younger than kindergarten again are admitted free.

IESA Girls Volleyball began in 1976. There was one-class competition from 1976-84, and in 1985 the state series was divided into Class A and Class AA by school size. From 1989-2006, there were two classes state series for both seventh grade and eighth grade. Beginning in 2007, the seventh and eighth grade series are divided into four classes.

Complete pairings for each state final, plus the FanZone, can be found at www.iesa.org. Click on the Volleyball link at the top of the IESA Website Home Page.

Here is a look at each of the four 2014 Eighth Grade State Final Tournaments:

Class 1A @ Hartsburg-Emden High School

The Rockets of Peoria Limestone Walters (22-3) meet the 20-1 Bobcats of Lowpoint-Washburn in the first quarterfinal match of the day beginning at 10:00 a.m. The Bobcats will be making their Class 1A state tournament debut, but are fresh off an impressive sectional championship victory over Ottawa Deer Park. On the flipside, the Rockets of Peoria Limestone Walters are no strangers to the big dance. In fact, it was only four seasons ago (2010) in which the Lady Rockets took home the gold in Class 1A. Combine that with the fact that these very Rockets competed in last year's Class 1A seventh grade state finals and you've got a group of young ladies ready to make school history. "There is a lot of pressure on the road to the state finals," said Head Coach Al Huber. "Winning the Sectional and knowing that you're going to "state" is a special feeling for our kids. They all want that opportunity to win the state tournament."

Game two of the day in Class 1A will feature the Bison of Grayville (17-3) pitted against the Mustangs of Royal Prairieview Ogden (20-3). This year's tournament will mark the Mustang's fourth Class 1A state tournament appearance since 2007. That impressive tournament run for Royal Prairieview Ogden is highlighted by a third place finish back in 2008. Meanwhile, the Bison have some impressive state tournament history of their own. In 2009, Grayville captured second and took home third a year later in 2010. Back to the state tournament for the first time in four years, the Bison are riding high following their two set sectional championship victory over Effingham Sacred Heart. Game time for this matchup begins at 11:00 a.m.

Following the early contests, the two morning winners will meet in the first semifinal matchup taking place at 1:00 p.m.

On deck in match three will be the 20-3 Falcons of Springfield Little Flower set to square off against the Wildcats of Lovejoy (21-2). The 2014 state finals mark the third time in four years the Wildcats have advanced, hoping to capture gold for the first time. It was only a year ago when this very squad from Lovejoy competed in the Class 1A seventh grade finals, but was knocked out early by eventual state runner-up Cissna Park. Could a potential rematch lay on the horizon come round two? Standing in the way of the Wildcats is a Falcon squad making their first ever appearance at the Class 1A state tournament. Led by Head Coach Helen Dulle, Springfield Little Flower recently punched their state finals ticket thanks to an impressive sectional championship win over Augusta Southeastern. These two teams will meet at 2:15 p.m. come Saturday.

Rounding out the quarterfinal matchups in Class 1A is a battle of unbeatens, as the Wildcats of Cissna Park (24-0) will take on the Stags of Hartsburg-Emden (23-0). The Stags will be looking for their sixth Class 1A state championship since 2007 (07, 08, 09, 12, 13), as each finals appearance over that span as resulted in gold. Not only has the eighth grade program been successful, this very group took home first place in the Class 1A seventh grade finals a year ago, defeating Cissna Park for the title. The Wildcats are coming off a Monday night sectional championship victory over Thornton Wolcott and are hoping to carry that momentum into the state quarterfinals come Saturday. Game time for this matchup begins at 3:30 p.m.

The winners of the two afternoon matches are set to meet in the second semifinal match at 5:15 p.m. The third place and title matches will be played Tuesday (March 25) at 5:30 and 6:45 p.m., respectively

Class 2A @ Auburn HS

Kicking off the action at 10:00 a.m. in Class 2A will be a matchup between the Knights of Raymond Lincolnwood (14-8) and the Indians of Lewistown Central (20-2). The Indians return to the state finals for the fifth time in six years, as that run is highlighted by a fourth place finish in 2013. It was also a year ago when these very Indians took home third place in the Class 2A state tournament. Aiming for more tournament success, the Indians will first have to surpass a Raymond Lincolnwood squad making their Class 2A tournament debut. Although new to the state scene, the Knights are feeling confident following Monday night's sectional championship victory over Hardin Calhoun.

Next up in game two will be the Titans of Oakland Lake Crest (21-1-1) taking on the Dragons of Grant Park (16-6). The Dragons return to the Class 2A tournament for the first time since capturing fourth place in 2012. As battle tested as any, Grant Park is coming off a narrow sectional championship victory over Seneca in which both set wins were via two points. Meanwhile, the Titans are back to the Class 2A state finals for the first time since placing fourth back in 2009. Led by Head Coach Drew Robertson, Oakland Lake Crest has gone exactly one month since their one and only defeat (Prairieview Ogden). Game time for this matchup begins at 11:15 a.m.

Following the early contests, the two morning winners will meet in the first semifinal matchup taking place at 1:00 p.m.

Game three of the day will feature the 2013 Class 2A seventh grade state champions in Bloomington Holy Trinity (22-1), as they square off against the Crusaders of Champaign Holy Cross (19-6). Making their first ever trip to the Class 2A state finals, the Crusaders are rolling following their recent sectional championship victory over Catlin Grade School. Hoping to keep their momentum alive, Champaign Holy Cross will have to upend a Saints squad that has only lost two contests in as many seasons. Bloomington Holy Trinity is aiming to duplicate Augusta Southeastern's efforts of a year ago, in which the Suns went wire-to-wire without losing a match. Game time for this matchup begins at 2:15 p.m.

Last but not least is the Class 2A quarterfinal matchup between the unbeaten Braves of Payson Seymour (25-0) and the Cougars of Springfield Christ the King (13-3). The Cougars return to the Class 2A state tournament for the first time since winning it all back in 2011. On the flipside, the Braves will be making their first ever Class 2A state finals appearance. Not to be intimidated by the spotlight, Payson Seymour is cruising following Monday night's sectional championship victory over La Harpe. The last quarterfinal matchup gets going at 3:30 p.m.

The winners of the two afternoon matches are set to meet in the second semifinal match at 5:15 p.m. The third place and title matches will be played Tuesday (March 25) at 5:30 and 6:45 p.m., respectively

Class 3A @ Tolono Unity JHS

In game one, the Crusaders of Quincy Blessed Sacrament (15-5) will battle the seasoned Cardinals of Pleasant Plains (18-1). Making their sixth Class 3A state tournament appearance since 2008, the Cardinals are the defending tournament champions. Led by Head Coach Kate Ruggless, Pleasant Plains knows the pressure that comes with continued success. "Our team is the reigning state champions from last year and we have a lot of pressure to perform well," said Ruggless. "From the very beginning of the season we have worked hard and stood by our team motto: hustle and heart, sets us apart." Hoping to derail the Cardinals current reign of success is a Crusader squad making their first ever trip to the Class 3A state finals. Fresh off their recent sectional championship win over Beardstown MS, Quincy Blessed Sacrament is poised to continue their march toward school history come Saturday. Game time is set for 10:00 a.m.

On deck is game two is a battle of tournament newcomers in the Hawks of Riverton (14-6) and the Raiders of Robinson Nuttall (21-1). Led by Head Coach Danielle Ryan, Riverton punched their ticket to state thanks to an impressive sectional championship win over Downs Tri-Valley on Monday night. On the flipside, the Raiders come rolling into the state tournament with only a single loss on the season. They too are coming off a big win, as Robinson Nuttall overcame a gritty Shelbyville Moulton squad to advance to the big dance. These two tournament newbies will get things going at 11:15 a.m.

Following the early contests, the two morning winners will meet in the first semifinal matchup taking place at 1:00 p.m.

Kicking off the afternoon action will be the Bobcats from Beecher (21-4) rumbling against the Junior Vandals of Vandalia (12-7). Led by co-team MVPs Katie Tarkington and Shelby Stewart, the Junior Vandals will be making their first ever trip to the eighth grade Class 3A state tournament. "We have come a long way over the season to improve and the girls have been working hard each and every day to get better," said Head Coach Allison Hall. If the Junior Vandals hope to advance, they will first have to do so at the expense of a Bobcats squad with plenty of tournament experience. After capturing fourth in the Class 3A seventh grade tournament a year ago, these Lady Bobcats are aiming to reach the state championship game much like their eighth grade counterparts of 2013. This quarterfinal matchup will begin at 2:15 p.m.

Wrapping up the Class 3A quarterfinal contests is a matchup between the Sages of Monticello (24-2) and the Mustangs of Chillicothe (21-1). Returning to the Class 3A state finals for the first time since capturing back-to-back runner-up titles in 09-10, the Mustangs are aiming for their first ever state championship. Reaching the finals was no simple task for Chillicothe, as the Mustangs gritted out a three set win over Eureka in the team's sectional championship this past Monday night. Meanwhile, the Sages will be making their Class 3A tournament debut come Saturday. Led by Head Coach Melanie Stripens, Monticello contributes their team's success to one important factor. "The chemistry between the players is what makes my team stand out," said Stripens. "A team is special when all issues melt away in the gym or on the court…it has been a privilege to coach such a fun group of girls." This quarterfinal matchup will begin 3:30 p.m.

The winners of the two afternoon matches are set to meet in the second semifinal match at 5:15 p.m. The third place and title matches will be played Tuesday (March 25) at 5:30 and 6:45 p.m., respectively

Class 4A @ Rochester JHS

The first quarterfinal contest of the day, set to begin at 10:00 a.m., will feature a Channahon (26-0) squad aiming to complete the first Class 4A perfect season since Frankfort Summit Hill in 2012. Standing in their way are the Bulldogs of Bolingbrook Brooks (13-9) who will be making their first ever Class 4A state tournament appearance. The Bulldogs are led by co-team MVPs Hallie Hall and Gabby Gallucci, and are described by their head coach as "gritty, tough, athletes". Fresh off their sectional championship win over Homer Glen Homer, the Bulldogs will need plenty of toughness if they hope to knockoff the unbeaten Indians.

Next up in game two is a battle between Edwardsville Liberty (24-0) and the Spartans of Frankfort Summit Hill (22-2). The Spartans, as previously noted, have plenty of tournament experience. The 2014 state finals will mark Frankfort Summit Hill's fifth Class 4A appearance since 2009. Hoping to recapture the magic from the 2012 title team, the Spartans are led by Head Coach Jack Howard. Howard and his squad are coming off a recent sectional championship win over Lansing Memorial. The Panthers, meanwhile, are putting together quite the season of their own. Aiming to take home their first ever state championship, Edwardsville Liberty returns to the state scene for the first time since placing fourth back in 2011. This matchup between tournament heavyweights begins at 11:15 a.m.

Following the early contests, the two morning winners will meet in the first semifinal matchup taking place at 1:00 p.m.

Game three, which gets going at 2:15 p.m., will showcase the 15-8 Rockets of Rochester against the undefeated Panthers of Pekin Edison (21-0). Making their first trip to the Class 4A state finals are the Panthers, as they are led by Head Coach Yvonne Thompson. Meanwhile, the Rockets return to the Class 4A state tournament for the first time since an early exit back in 2011. Hoping to secure their first ever top four finish, the Rockets are coming off a three set sectional championship victory over Jacksonville Turner.

Champaign Jefferson, boasting a record of 22-2, will square off against the Tigers of Bourbonnais UGC (15-4) in what will be the last quarterfinal matchup of the day. The Tigers are back to the Class 4A tournament for the first time since their quarterfinal defeat back in 2012. Bourbonnais UGC is also coming off an impressive sectional championship victory over Coal City. The Jaguars of Champaign Jefferson return to the state tournament after a four year hiatus, taking home gold back in 2009. The last quarterfinal contest of the day is schedule to begin at 3:30 p.m.

The winners of the two afternoon matches are set to meet in the second semifinal match at 5:15 p.m. The third place and title matches will be played Tuesday (March 25) at 5:30 and 6:45 p.m., respectively

For more information, please contact IESA Assistant Executive Director and Volleyball Administrator Julie Cochran at julie@iesa.org.



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