Phil Hannon, Maalik Walker and their Minooka teammates will board a bus at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday for the 250-mile trek (one way) to play O'Fallon in a sectional final on the Panthers' home floor.(Sun-Times photo by Richard Hein)
If the IHSA has no problem with sending a team on a 500-mile round trip on a Tuesday to play a sectional final, what possible problem would it have sending teams, oh say, on a 60-mile roundtrip from Orland Park to Oak Park or an 80-mile roundtrip from 99th and Pulaski to Bartlett for regional or sectional play to create a more equitable playoff system?
And if travel is such an issue, why not have the deep south representatives come up to Hoffman Estates for a "play-in" game the Thursday before the state quarterfinals, so if they win they could just stay in the area to play Friday, and if they lose they could at least stick around to watch the quarterfinals the next day before re-boarding the bus?
Money can't be the issue. Teams travel all over to play in weekend tournaments. Warren plays at the Lincoln-Way East tournament. Brother Rice plays at Wheaton Warrenville South. Sandburg plays at Buffalo Grove. Glenbrook North plays at Brother Rice. Belleville East played at Lincoln-Way East.
And if you are not going to create a more equitable system prior to the state finals, at least make the state finals more equitable by seeding the final eight teams. A potential Minooka vs. Lincoln-Way East/North quarterfinal? Really?
Make too much sense?
Here's a look at how the sectional finals would have shaped up had all the top seeds advanced, and how the tournament has played out thus far:
Tuesday, May 28 (if top seeds had advanced)
Minooka vs. O'Fallon at O'Fallon, 7:00 p.m.
Lincoln-Way East vs. Lincoln-Way North at Andrew, 6:00 p.m.
New Trier vs. Glenbrook North at Niles West, 6:00 p.m.
Payton vs. Whitney Young at Whitney Young, 7:00 p.m.
Lyons vs. Neuqua Valley at Proviso West, 7:00 p.m.
Stevenson vs. Deerfield at Antioch, 7:00 p.m.
Oak Park vs. St. Rita at St. Rita, 7:00 p.m.
St. Charles North vs. Lake Park at Bartlett, 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, May 28 (the way it is)
(1) Minooka 33-2 vs. (1) O'Fallon 25-2-2 at O'Fallon, 7:00 p.m.
(1) Lincoln-Way East 35-3 vs. (2) Lincoln-Way North 34-3 at Andrew, 6:00 p.m.
(4) Glenbrook South 26-10-1 vs. (3) Loyola 31-6 at Niles West, 6:00 p.m.
(1) Payton 26-7 vs. (3) St. Patrick 17-22 at Whitney Young, 7:00 p.m.
(5) Downers Grove South 26-11 vs. (2) Neuqua Valley 32-5 at Proviso West, 7:00 p.m.
(4) Vernon Hills 32-6 vs. (2) Deerfield 31-6 at Antioch, 7:00 p.m.
(1) Oak Park 19-18 vs. (2) St. Rita 19-17 at St. Rita, 7:00 p.m.
(1) St. Charles North 31-6 vs. (2) Lake Park 25-12 at Bartlett, 7:00 p.m.
Friday, May 31 (at Hoffman Estates, if top seeds advance from Tuesday)
Minooka vs. Lincoln-Way East, 1:00 p.m.
Loyola vs. Payton, 2:00 p.m.
Neuqua Valley vs. Deerfield, 5:00 p.m.
Oak Park vs. St. Charles North, 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 1 (at Hoffman Estates)
Semifinals, 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
Third-place, 4:00 p.m.
Championship, 5:15 p.m.
Draw your own conclusions.
Vernon Hills and Buffalo Grove played a memorable sectional semifinal Friday with the Cougars advancing thanks to a 21-25, 25-21, 32-30 win. Vernon Hills (32-6) rallied from a 23-20 deficit in Game 3 to reach the sectional finals against Deerfield.
"We just about gave up our chance at this one with all the errors, both serving and attacking," Vernon Hills coach Chris Curry said. "Buffalo Grove wouldn't let us get in a rhythm, but the kids kept their heads together and found just enough late."
Vernon Hills trailed 23-20 in the third game when junior setter Ryan Opitz found Lem Turner for a couple of huge kills, junior Max Spiglanin made two remarkable digs, and Mike Heinz got three kills late as well as putting on great pressure from the service line.
Chris Edwards was perfect passing down the stretch and Dylan DeBoer tossed in two aces as well.
"We got just enough good play late to get us past a tough Buffalo Grove squad," Curry said.
Junior-dominated Lake Park is a team to watch in 2014, if not this weekend. The Lancers (25-12) defeated St. Charles East, 25-15, 25-17, in the Friday's sectional semifinals to advance to Tuesday's sectional final against Upstate Eight Conference for St. Charles North.
Senior Dillon Hock led Lake Park with eight kills, junior Sean Moore had seven kills and six blocks, junior Shawn Fritsche had three kills, six blocks and an ace, and junior Quin Krisik had 21 assists, three aces and two blocks.
Two girls from Lake Zurich recently verbally committed. Setter Kristen Walding has committed to D-1 Northeastern University (Boston) and hitter Sydney Glover has committed to play at D-1 Duquesne University (Pittsburg).
Benet Academy, the two-time defending Class 4A state champion, is sponsoring volleyball camps for girls this summer.
A camp for girls in grades 2-8 will be held in the morning on Monday-Thursday, June 10-13 and in the afternoon on Monday-Thursday, July 15-18. A camp for girls in grades 8 and 9 will be held Monday and Tuesday, July 1-2, and a camp for girls in grades 9-12 will be held Monday-Thursday, July 15-18.
For more information and to register, go to www.benetvolleyball.org.