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St. Henry volleyball team excited to be hosting the first All ‘A’ Classic state tournament in N.Ky.

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By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

After taking teams to the All “A” Classic state volleyball tournament in Louisville four of the last five years, St. Henry coach Maureen Kaiser jumped at the chance to bring the event to Northern Kentucky.

St. Henry players celebrate after their team’s victory in the 9th Region All “A” Classic championship match.

The Crusaders will host the 2017 small-school state tournament this Friday and Saturday with matches scheduled in the high school gym and the St. Henry Athletic Complex in Florence.

“I suggested that we host it because when you look at the All ‘A’ there’s nothing held in Northern Kentucky as far as state events,” Kaiser said. “Then, when we got the complex, our administration wanted to get people in there and fill it and see what we can do with something of this nature.”

Sixteen regional champion teams will compete in the state tournament. The field includes St. Henry, Bishop Brossart and Walton-Verona along with defending state champion Louisville Presentation.

The tournament begins with pool play on Friday night. The two teams that win the most matches in each of the four pools will earn berths in the championship bracket. The other eight teams will be placed in a consolation bracket.

The single-elimination bracket matches will start at noon on Saturday with the finals scheduled at 3 p.m. on courts at the complex, which is located on Burlington Pike near Boone County High School.

Splitting the state tournament schedule into two days is a change Kaiser knows the 16 participating teams will appreciate.

“In the past, all the matches were played on Saturday,” she said. “We’d start at 8 in the morning and play until 8 at night. When you play up to seven matches in one day it just beats the heck out of your kids.”

Maria Tobergte

The Crusaders won the All “A” Classic state tournament three consecutive years from 2012-14. They didn’t make it back in 2015 because they were upset in the regional playoffs, but they returned last year and lost to Louisville Presentation in the state championship final.

Last weekend, St. Henry defeated Presentation, 25-17, 24-26, 25-23, during an invitational tournament in Louisville. The way this week’s state tournament is set up the two teams could meet again in the championship final if they both win their first six matches.

“We’ve got a lot of tournament experience and we’ve played a lot of tough teams,” Kaiser said. “I think we’re peaking at the right time. We had a great tournament last weekend so I’m really excited for them.”

Both of the St. Henry players named to the last year’s state all-tournament team are back in the lineup. Bridgett Bessler is a junior setter and Maria Tobergte is a junior outside hitter who actually plays all six positions in the rotation.

“She never leaves the floor,” the coach said of Tobergte, a University of Cincinnati recruit. “She’s our main offensive threat, but she’s just such a smart player defensively, too. She passes the ball extremely well.”

Kaiser said all of her players are excited to be hosting the small-school state tournament for the first time. They helped make goodie bags to welcome the other teams to the new venue. Parents of the players and St. Henry faculty members have also volunteered to do whatever they can to make the tournament a success.

“I’ve got a good support system at St. Henry and we’re all excited with the complex,” Kaiser said. “It will have its kinks this weekend, but I’m sure we’ll iron them all out. I’m just excited it’s here.”

ALL “A” CLASSIC STATE VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
(St. Henry High School and St. Henry Athletic Complex)

Pool A — St. Henry, Bishop Brossart, Paintsville, West Carter.
Pool B — Christian Fellowship, Clinton County, Lexington Christian, Hazard.
Pool C — Louisville Presentation, Kentucky Country Day, Walton-Verona, Washington County.
Pool D — Caldwell County, Whitesville Trinity, Bardstown, Harlan.

FRIDAY — Pool play matches at both sites, 6:30, 7:15, 8:00, 8:45 p.m.
SATURDAY — Pool play matches at St. Henry Athletic Complex, 9:00, 9:45, 10:30 a.m.
SATURDAY — Championship bracket at St. Henry Athletic Complex, noon, 12:45, 1:30, 2:15, 3:00 p.m.
SATURDAY — Consolation bracket St. Henry Athletic Complex, noon, 12:45, 1:30, 2:15, 3:00 p.m.

ADMISSION — $10 each day.

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