Grand Island had to wait a few days to find out, but the Islanders will indeed be a part of the state volleyball tournament.
Coach Bill Root’s squad snagged the lone Class A wild card after finishing as a district runner-up Wednesday. Part of the official tournament field couldn’t be determined until after Saturday’s Class B substate matches that impacted wild-card points in other classes.
The Islanders will get a chance to play in front of the home fans when the tournament begins Thursday at four sites in Grand Island. The eighth-seeded Islanders will play at 9 a.m. against top-seeded Millard West at the Heartland Events Center.
This is the final year of the four-year contract that placed the tournament in Grand Island. Next year, it will return to Lincoln.
Root, in his 14th season, said it didn’t matter where the tourney is being played, so long as his squad is a part of it.
“We love having the tournament here,” he said. “But whether it’s Grand Island or Lincoln, the main thing is to just have the opportunity to play for a title.”
Grand Island edged North Platte for the wild-card slot, though the Bulldogs swept the Islanders in a pair of late-October matches. North Platte won eight of its final nine matches, losing to Lincoln North Star in a district final.
The other first-round Class A matches Thursday will be Millard North vs. Papillion-La Vista at 11 a.m., Omaha Marian vs. Lincoln Southwest at 2 p.m. and North Star vs. Lincoln Southeast at 4.
The first two matches of the Class B tournament will be played at Grand Island High School — Grand Island Northwest vs. Beatrice at 9 a.m. and Waverly vs. Norris at 11. In matches later Thursday at the Events Center, Lincoln Pius X will play Elkhorn South at 6:30 p.m. and Aurora will play Omaha Skutt at 8:30.
The tournament semifinals will be played Friday at the Events Center and Grand Island High, with all six finals scheduled for Saturday at the Events Center.
THURSDAY’s first round
CLASS A At Heartland Events Center
9 a.m.: Millard West (34-2) vs. Grand Island (22-13)
11: Millard North (29-11) vs. Papillion-La Vista (26-10)
2 p.m.: Omaha Marian (30-11) vs. Lincoln Southwest (25-8)
4: Lincoln North Star (22-10) vs. Lincoln Southeast (30-8)
At Grand Island High
9 a.m.: Grand Island Northwest (36-0) vs. Beatrice (22-11)
11: Waverly (31-4) vs. Norris (27-8)
At Heartland Events Center
6:30 p.m.: Lincoln Pius X (34-6) vs. Elkhorn South (20-13)
8:30: Aurora (27-8) vs. Omaha Skutt (31-7)
CLASS C-1 At Grand Island High
2 p.m.: Ogallala (31-6) vs. Wayne (25-6)
4: Chadron (27-3) vs. Kearney Catholic (24-8)
6:30: Columbus Scotus (25-3) vs. Syracuse (27-4)
8:30: Minden (25-4) vs. Wahoo (28-3)
CLASS C-2 At Grand Island Northwest
9 a.m.: Hastings St. Cecilia (25-8) vs. Norfolk Lutheran (23-9)
11: Palmyra (25-5) vs. Crofton (23-4)
2 p.m.: Freeman (25-5) vs. Ord (20-11)
4: Humphrey/Lindsay HF (30-2) vs. West Point GACC (29-4)
CLASS D-1 At Grand Island Central Catholic
2 p.m.: O’Neill St. Mary’s (30-1) vs. Cross County (17-16)
4: Friend (25-5) vs. Chambers/Wheeler Central (23-6)
6:30: Bruning-Davenport/Shickley (28-3) vs. Brady (23-6)
8:30: Howells-Dodge (23-8) vs. Axtell (22-9)
At Grand Island Central Catholic
9 a.m.: Leyton (30-2) vs. Giltner (28-2)
11 a.m.: Sterling (25-7) vs. Mead (26-5)
At Grand Island Northwest
6:30 p.m.: Bertrand (31-0) vs. Wallace (16-7)
8:30: Falls City SH (26-5) vs. Stuart (24-6)