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Wednesday, March 9

Class 7A volleyball tournament begins Saturday with Mount Pulaski and Elkhart teams in first round

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[MARCH 9, 2005]  BLOOMINGTON -- Unbeaten Oakland Lake Crest (22-0) heads a field of 16 teams in the 17th annual Illinois Elementary School Association Class 7A Girls State Volleyball Tournament beginning Saturday at Wenona Fieldcrest Middle School. This is the 30th year of IESA volleyball.

The tournament gets under way Saturday with eight matches, beginning at 9:30 a.m. First-round winners advance to the quarterfinals Tuesday (March 15) beginning at 3:30 p.m. The semifinals and finals will be played Wednesday (March 16), with the first semifinal match at 3:30 and the second set to begin at 4:45. The third-place match is scheduled for 6 p.m., and the championship match is slated to start at 7:15 p.m.

The Oakland Lake Crest team is a first-year co-op involving Kansas and host school Oakland Lake Crest. The combined enrollment for the co-op is 68 students in the seventh and eighth grades. Kansas advanced to last year's 7A state tournament with a 22-0 record and lost to Lexington in the first round. Over the 17-year history of 7A volleyball, Kansas qualified for the state tournament 12 times, winning its only 7A title in 2001. This is the first appearance in the 7A tournament for Oakland Lake Crest. The Titans have six players on the roster at 5-foot-5 or taller.

Eight of the 16 finalists have at least 20 wins. The combined win-loss record of the 16 is 300-50, a winning percentage of .857. Jacksonville Our Saviour (24-1) and tiny Elkhart (24-1) have the most wins among the finalists. Other 20-win qualifiers are West Salem (22-1), Peoria Limestone Walters (23-1), Bloomington Holy Trinity (20-3), Mendon Unity (20-2) and Colchester West Prairie (20-3).

Mount Pulaski (18-5) is making its 10th trip to the 7A tournament. The Honeybears are seeking their fifth state championship. Mount Pulaski won 7A in 1993, 1994, 1998 and 2000. The all-time leader in 7A state championships is Hartsburg-Emden with six. Its string of three straight championships was stopped with a 15-8, 15-5 loss to Elkhart in the sectional. Hartsburg-Emden won titles in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2004. The only other school in this year's field to earn the title is Divernon, which won in 1991.

Mount Pulaski and Elkhart are in the same school district, and students from the two schools attend perennial IHSA volleyball powerhouse Mount Pulaski High School. The seventh- and eighth-grade enrollment for Elkhart is 19. The seventh- and eighth-grade enrollment for Mount Pulaski is 75. IESA rules allow for students in grades five through seven to play for the school's seventh-grade team. The Elkhart 7A roster includes three players in fifth grade, two in sixth and seven in seventh.

The largest school in this year's field is Colchester West Prairie Middle School, with a seventh- and eighth-grade enrollment of 137. Enrollments for the remainder of the field (seventh- and eighth-grade only) are Mendon Unity 132, Bunker Hill Meissner 130, Bloomington Holy Trinity 127, Jacksonville Our Saviour 92, St. Elmo 86, Grand Ridge 74, Oakland Lake Crest 68, Cissna Park 55, Gifford 54, West Salem 44, Peoria Limestone Walters 39, Divernon 35, Metamora St. Mary's 31 and Elkhart 19.

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Five of the 16 teams in this year's field are making their first appearance at the state tournament. They are Bloomington Holy Trinity, Oakland Lake Crest, Colchester West Prairie, Elkhart and Gifford. Only three of the teams are appearing for more than the fourth time. Following Mount Pulaski with 10 appearances are Peoria Limestone Walters and Cissna Park, each making its sixth trip.

Several of the finalists can throw big lineups at their opponents. Leading the way is Jacksonville Our Saviour with 5-10 middle hitter Katie Lindsey, 5-9 middle hitter Casey Hance and 5-8 middle hitter Brittany Barfield. The Shamrocks' roster also includes 5-7 outside hitter Sam Hemingartner and 5-7 outside hitter Morgan Eilering. Cissna Park boasts 5-9 middle hitters Lauren Bauer and Ashley Luhman. Metamor St. Mary's has 5-8 hitters Natalie Marchal and Ashley Voudrie.

First-round pairings for Saturday

  • Match 1, 9:30 a.m. -- West Salem (22-1) vs. Metamora St. Mary's (18-5)

  • Match 2, 10:45 a.m. -- Bunker Hill Meissner (11-5) vs. Jacksonville Our Saviour (24-1)

  • Match 3, noon -- Peoria Limestone Walters (23-1) vs. Bloomington Holy Trinity (20-3)

  • Match 4, 1:15 p.m. -- Divernon (16-4) vs. Mendon Unity (20-2)

  • Match 5, 3 p.m. -- Oakland Lake Crest (22-0) vs. Colchester West Prairie (20-3)

  • Match 6, 4:15 p.m. -- Mount Pulaski (18-5) vs. St. Elmo (18-2)

  • Match 7, 5:30 p.m. -- Elkhart (24-1) vs. Gifford (16-4)

  • Match 8, 6:45 p.m. -- Grand Ridge (13-7) vs. Cissna Park (15-6)

Visit for additional information regarding this and all other IESA state final events. Click on the "Volleyball" link at the top of the website's front page. Rosters for all of the 16 teams and the pairings chart are included on the volleyball page.

[Illinois Elementary School Association news release]

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