By Phil Brozynski
The Illinois High School Association released the sites for the 2008 Girls Volleyball State Tournament recently, and while the home court did not help Naperville North last year, Downers Grove South will welcome any edge it can get.
The state title-contending Mustangs will have homecourt advantage for the Class 4A volleyball sectional which will likely include defending state champion Naperville Central, powerful Benet, and perhaps Plainfield North, Neuqua Valley, Naperville North or Waubonsie Valley.
How much the homecourt will mean remains to be seen. Neither team which played a 4A sectional on its home floor in 2007 - Naperville North and Normal - advanced to the supersectional.
However, playing in front of a predominately partisan crowd did not hurt Wheaton St. Francis, which defeated Joliet Catholic in two games in last year's electric 3A sectional final in Wheaton.
Other 4A sectional hosts in 2008 will include Prairie Ridge, York, DeLaSalle, Andrew, Barrington, Highland Park and Quincy.
St. Francis won't get a sectional in 3A, but the Spartans will host a regional. Local 3A sectional sites include Crete-Monee, Nazareth Academy, (River Forest) Trinity and Marian Central.
Luther South hosts the only Chicago-area 2A sectional and Chicago-area Class 1A hopefuls will have to travel to Somonauk for their sectional.
Very little seems to have changed from last year in terms of which regionals will feed into particular sectionals. But until the IHSA holds its "rolling of the peas" sometime this September, how the sectionals match up has not yet been determined.
Elsewhere, Marilyn Akey stepped down at (Chicago Heights) Marian Catholic after 13 seasons which included 287 wins, nine regional titles, a supersectional appearance in 1996 and a quarterfinal berth in 2002.
Stefanie Cravens, a Rich South graduate and an assistant at Marian Catholic the past three seasons, was named to succeed Akey.