Grand Island gears up for volleyball tourney

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November 10th, 2010

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Lincoln, NE – After hosting its first State Fair over the summer, Grand Island is gearing up for its first run with the State High School Volleyball Tournament.

The tournament has traditionally been held in Lincoln, but for at least the next two years year it moves west. 64 teams will start competition at six locations in Grand Island and Hastings Thursday, Nov. 11. On Saturday, Nov. 13, all of the championship games, from Class A to Class D-2, will be at the Heartland Events Center at the new State Fairgrounds in Grand Island. Jim Angele, with the Nebraska State Athletics Association, said “It’s a big boost for them to be able to show off their cities, and exactly what … they’ve got to offer the fans and spectators.”

“I think when people go out there they’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quality of venues we’ve got to use for the next three days.”

After three years of trying, Grand Island made a strong bid to move the tournament from Lincoln. The city invested about $41,000 to pay for the move, including a $6,000 subsidy to the State Athletics Association to cover costs if ticket sales don’t meet expectations. Renee Seifert of the Grand Island Visitor’s Bureau said her group has been helping arrange hundreds of volunteers to help with the tournament. There are maps for the new venues and a 1-800 number to help volleyball travelers find hotel rooms. Seifert says the success from the State Fair shows that Grand Island can pull it off.

“I am seriously anticipating that we will have the same numbers that they’ve always enjoyed in Lincoln, which is basically 30-35,000 paid attendees.”

Seifert thinks a shorter drive will make it easier for some Western Nebraska fans to follow their teams to the state tournament.

“Because of the proximity to those smaller communities like a community of Axtell, even Kearney to a certain extent, or Mullen… those communities will follow their team members and come to a state volleyball championship where maybe they never have gone in the past.”

While teams from Omaha and Lincoln will spend another 90 miles on the road, teams from the Panhandle will have a shorter haul. The trip from Hay Springs will be down to 318 miles.

NET Television will broadcast the championship games on NET-1 and online.

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