Everyone won in this 'tournament' [The Roanoke Times, Va.]
(Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 13--The Tournament of Champions is a misnomer.
There were plenty of champions. But there was no tournament.
Nevertheless, the Friday-Saturday event at Spectrum Sports Academy was the place to see high-quality high school volleyball this weekend in Roanoke.
Seventeen teams from Virginia and West Virginia -- including four reigning state champions -- took part in the second annual event hosted by Cave Spring High School.
It was bigger -- the inaugural event in 2012 had 12 teams and was played one day -- and better than last year's.
Timesland power Hidden Valley entered the weekend undefeated, but the Titans left with a loss to two-time former West Virginia state champion Musselman. The Titans defeated 10-time former West Virginia champ Parkersburg.
"I'm excited to play Parkersburg and Musselman," Hidden Valley coach Carla Poff said. "It's also good just to watch the other teams like Loudoun, to learn. I just wanted to play some higher-level competition, to get us ready for the postseason."
Cave Spring coach and tournament director Tamalyn Tanis devised a new format in 2013. She junked last year's pool-play setup in favor of a predetermined five-match schedule where each team was slotted with opponents of similar strength.
"We got feedback from the coaches about what they wanted out of the day," Tanis said. "If you've got a good team, you want to play the best competition to get ready for the postseason.
"Everybody knew in advance the five matches they were going to play."
Floyd Kellam, the 2012 Group AAA champion from Virginia Beach, got to mix it up with 2012 Group AA champ Loudoun County and 2012 VIS Division I champ Flint Hill Academy.
Loudoun County, likely the favorite to win the Group 4A state title this year, beat Flint Hill 25-14, 25-20 and took care of a rebuilding Kellam team 26-24, 25-17. Flint Hill lost to Kellam 25-14, 25-20 and the reigning private school champs also fell to Atlee.
"There were some matchups we really wanted to see," Tanis said. "That's what's exciting about it."
Timesland teams in the field besides Cave Spring and Hidden Valley were 2012 Group A Division 1 champion Auburn, Bath County, Lord Botetourt, Jefferson Forest, Patrick Henry and Franklin County.
This year's event also included Frank Cox of Virginia Beach, Richmond-area schools Atlee and James River-Midlothian and Colonial Forge.
Ten schools in the 2013 field own a combined 36 state titles.
The new format also eliminated the chance of teams from outside the area having to travel to Roanoke, only to play another team from their back yard.
"Parkersburg doesn't want to drive seven hours and play Musselman," Tanis said. "Kellam doesn't want to drive all the way down here and play Cox.
"It's like putting a puzzle together. This year I think everybody got the quality of match they wanted all day long."
The two-day format allowed several teams more rest time between matches.
"Last year by the time you got to the last match it wasn't the best level of volleyball because everybody was tired," Tanis said.
Here were some hurdles to navigate.
Hidden Valley and Patrick Henry were in the midst of homecoming festivities. Both teams had to report at 8:30 a.m. Saturday for three straight matches so they could prepare for the homecoming dance.
Also, teams needing motels found rooms tougher to obtain because of Virginia Tech's home football game against Pittsburgh.
"This year was awful because Tech had a home game," Tanis said. "If we can find a year where we didn't have to deal with that, we could put on a higher-quality event in terms of rates and where they could stay."
Such a conflict isn't all bad. It means teams want to come to the event.
"I think it's getting a good reputation in-state," Tanis said. "I have people emailing me wanting to come. We could still do more, but the quality is what we want to maintain.
"Now that we've had success, and Hidden Valley's had success, it's nice to be able to draw these teams to this area. Seven or eight years ago, if I'd been making phone calls trying to get teams to come here they would have been like, 'Why? You come to us.' "
(c)2013 The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Va.)
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