By Pat Brozynski

Why not move the state tournament to Saint Xavier?

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By Phil Brozynski

Sitting in a red plastic seat in the stands at Saint Xavier University watching the finals of the Brother Rice Smack Attack between St. Francis and Marist on Saturday, one could not help but agree with the assessment of a nearby spectator.

"They need to play the boys' state tournament here, or at least a place just like it," the spectator said. "I heard they've been talking about the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, but that facility is probably too big.

"Nothing against Hoffman Estates High School," he added. "They do a nice job. But the atmosphere here is so much better. It's a college arena. No matter what they do, Hoffman Estates is still a high school gym."

The boys state volleyball tournament does deserve a facility like the Shannon Center at Saint Xavier.

The Shannon Center has been the site of some recent supersectionals in basketball, including the girls classic this winter between (Chicago) Whitney Young and (Chicago Heights) Marian Catholic, won by Young on a 25-footer at the buzzer.

It is not a cavernous facility, like Redbird Arena at Illinois State University can become when only a few hundred fans attend Saturday's third-place games (no students because they are already excused from school, and playing for third is not quite playing for first).

But the Shannon Center still has that college "feel." All the way up to the vegetarian concession stand with the power juice drinks. But those can easily be replaced with popcorn poppers and pretzel ovens.

Meanwhile, give Brother Rice coach Br. Paul Ickes credit for undertaking an ambitious plan in putting together Smack Attack. Hopefully, the tournament will grow and prosper in the next few years.

The logistics certainly are more convenient than say, the Nike Challenge girls tournament, which involves some vehicular use to get from site to site.

***

Congratulations to Dan Dierking and Victor Lei of Naperville Central and Miguel Calvillo and Ryan Kristensen of Naperville North, who committed to play next year for St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

The 6-foot-5 Dierking was a pre-season Sun-Times top 50 player before suffering a knee injury the first weekend of the season.

***

Finally, as much as one would like to be, you can't be everywhere all the time. So while I have to apologize for not having the results from Minooka and Downers North reflected in this week's rankings, those results were never called in.

So Hinsdale Central remained at No. 5 despite a loss to Neuqua Valley, and Glenbard East should be 17-0 instead of 12-0.

Sorry, again. Coaches can e-mail results to preps@chicagosuntimes.com.

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2 Comments

I completely agree with you, Phil. This is one of two measures that should be passed by the IHSA:

1) Move the boys volleyball championships from Hoffman Estates to St. Xavier's, or even rotate it between St. Xavier's (on the southwest side) to some comparable college facility in the northwest suburbs.

2) Eliminate the rule maxing out a team's participation in a tournament to 5 matches. Teams like Warren and Brother Rice, who have each played in California this spring, have to opt out of playing additional matches due to Illinois rules. In Brother Rice's case, they could have continued in and won the La Jolla Beach City tournament. Instead, they finish 5-0 and tied for 9th. Because there is no max limit of games California teams can play in a tournament, they are able to field tournaments with more than 32 teams. If the Smack Attack and similar tournaments in Illinois are going to attract teams to their tournaments, this rule needs to be changed.

I'll stop with that for now, but I could also make a case for Best of 5 matches. I think with the IHSA, it simply takes baby steps.

Having played down state at Hoffman Estates, I can tell you that the atmosphere is fantastic. Even though Hoffman Estates is just a high school, it doesn't feel like one. With the fans directly above you when youre serving and the fans right next to you on the sides it feels like exactly what it is, a huge highschool game.

With that said, I have thought of other places that might be suitable for the highschool state finals.

Lewis- Its a college arena where tons of volleyball is played.
St Xavier- same type of thing, but without a volleyball background like Lewis
Loyola Main Gym- nicely sized, super sectionals have been held there also

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on April 27, 2009 10:17 PM.

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