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Peoria Limestone Walters Back to Defend Class 8A Girls Volleyball Title

Defending champion Peoria Limestone Walters and perennial powerhouse Mt. Pulaski, last year's runner-up, are among the field of 16 teams in the 2006 Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) Class 8A Girls State Volleyball Tournament that gets under way Saturday at Bloomington Central Catholic High School. This is the 31st year of IESA girls volleyball and the last year of the two-class system. Next year there will be four classes in girls volleyball.

Peoria Limestone Walters brings a 23-1 record into the State Tournament this year. The Rockets beat Mt. Pulaski 15-3, 15-10 for last year's title, finished with a 28-0 record and became the 36th team in IESA girls volleyball history to go undefeated. Coach Al Huber's team is 51-1 over the past two seasons. Mt. Pulaski this year is 24-1. Both teams are in the lower bracket and could meet in the semifinals.

Also in the lower bracket are the tournament's other two teams with only one loss. Jacksonville Our Saviour and Bement. The Shamrocks of Our Saviour are 23-1 and the Bulldogs of Bement are 19-1.

There will be eight first round matches Saturday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Winners Saturday advance to the quarterfinals Monday (March 20) starting at 3:30 p.m. The semifinals will be played starting at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday (March 21) with the third place and championship matches to follow the semifinals Tuesday. Third place match is set to begin at 6:00 p.m. and the championship battle is scheduled to begin at 7:15.

Only two of the eight teams in the upper bracket have 19 wins. First round pairings match Lewistown Central (16-7) vs. St. Anne (7-15) at 9:30 a.m., St. Elmo (19-4) vs. Bunker Hill Meissner (14-3) at 10:45 a.m., Pawnee (18-4) against Royal Prairieview (19-5) at noon and Mazon-Verona-Kinsman (10-10) at 1:15 p.m. The lower bracket first round matches are Hume Shiloh (15-6) vs. Jacksonville Our Saviour (23-1) at 3:00 p.m., Albion (19-6) vs. Mt. Pulaski (24-1) at 4:15 p.m., Peoria Limestone Walters (23-1) vs. Mendon Unity (17-7) at 5:30 p.m. and Bement (19-1) vs. Lexington (15-8) at 6:45 p.m.

Peoria Limestone Walters is making its seventh trip to the 8A State Final. Mt. Pulaski is making its 12th appearance and has won four Class 8A state titles. Coach Donna Dulle's Honeybears won in 1994-98-2001-02. Jacksonville Our Saviour is in the State Final for the fifth time. The trio has not played one another during the season. Peoria Limestone Walters only loss was to Dunlap. Jacksonville Our Saviour lost to cross-town river Jacksonville Turner. Mt. Pulaski's only loss was at the hands of Chatham Glenwood. The only team to beat Bement was Monticello.

Bunker Hill Meissner, which advanced to the 8A quarterfinals last year, can rotate twin towers at its opponents. The Lady Patriots boast 5-foot-11 outside hitter Brooklyn Hlafka and 5-10 outside hitter Abby Paul. Lewistown Central can put 5-10 middle hitter Kali Bainter and 5-9 middle hitter Bailey Hatfill on the floor at the same time. Pawnee has 5-9 Mallory Crain and 5-9 Kassi VanDenberg. Royal Prairieview can bring 5-11 middle hitter Shelby Duitsman and 5-9 middle hitter Jenna Frerichs into the lineup at the same time. Jacksonville Our Saviour has the tallest team in the tournament and could put a front line of 5-10 Katie Lindsey, 5-9 Morgan Eilering and 5-9 Casey Hance on the court together. Mt. Pulaski has 5-10 seventh grader Samantha Nichols. Peoria Limestone Walters has only one player taller than 5-6 and that is outside hitter Sami Siebenthal, a seventh grader. The Rockets' roster of 15 players breaks down to 8 eighth graders, 5 seventh graders and 2 sixth graders.

This year's Class 8A field includes only three first time qualifiers. They are Lewistown Central (16-7), Pontiac St. Mary's (14-7) and Hume Shiloh (15-6).

Only six of the 16 state qualifiers have seventh-eighth grade enrollments or greater than 100. Largest school in the field is Albion at 138. Smallest school is Peoria Limestone Walters with 37. The combined total enrollment of the 16 qualifiers is 1,411, an average of 88.1.

The combined won-loss record of the field is 272-86, a winning percentage of .760. Here are the 2005 Class 8A State Tournament pairings:

Saturday, March 18 (First Round)
Match 1 9:30 a.m. Lewistown Central (16-7) vs. St. Anne (7-15)
Match 2 10:45 a.m. St. Elmo (19-4) vs. Bunker Hill Meissner (14-3)
Match 3 12:00 noon Pawnee (18-4) vs. Royal Prairieview (19-5)
Match 4 1:15 p.m. Mazon-Verona-Kinsman (10-10) vs. Pontiac St. Mary's (14-7)
Match 5 3:00 p.m. Hume Shiloh (15-6) vs. Jacksonville Our Saviour (23-1)
Match 6 4:15 p.m. Albion (19-6) vs. Mt. Pulaski (24-1)
Match 7 5:30 p.m. Peoria Limestone Walters (23-1) vs. Mendon Unity (17-7)
Match 8 6:45 p.m. Bement (19-1) vs. Lexington (15-8)

Monday, March 20 (Quarterfinals)
Match 9- 3:30 p.m. Winners of Matches 1 and 2
Match 10- 4:45 p.m. Winners of Matches 3 and 4
Match 11- 6:00 p.m. Winners of Matches 5 and 6
Match 12- 7:15 p.m. Winners of Matches 7 and 8

Tuesday, March 21 (Semifinals & Finals)
Match 13- 3:30 p.m. Winners of Matches 9 and 10
Match 14- 4:45 p.m. Winners of Matches 11 and 12
Match 15- 6:00 p.m. Losers of Matches 13 and 14 (Third Place)
Match 16- 7:15 p.m. Winners of Matches 13 and 14 (State Championship)

Visit for additional information regarding this, and all other, IESA state final events. Click on the Volleyball link at the top of the Web Site front page.

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