CEDAR RAPIDS – The opening session at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena went as planned.
“We’re thrilled,” Mike Dick, executive director of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, said after the Wednesday afternoon matches of the state volleyball tournament. “Everything has been better than we expected.
“We’ll get a better test tonight, with the bigger crowds transitioning in and out.”
The 3,800-seat arena was nowhere near full for the Class 4A quarterfinals. But it was cozy and relatively loud at times.
“It’s a 180-degree turn from the (U.S.) Cellular Center, and I love it,” said Cedar Rapids Kennedy Athletics Director Aaron Stecker.
The tournament called the U.S. Cellular Center home from 1991 to 2010, but renovation to the downtown arena forced the tournament to move for a one-year shift at the Ice Arena.
“After playing here, I think this is where it should be every year,” said Iowa City West Coach Kathy Bresnahan. “It’s an incredible venue. I love it.”
Ankeny Coach Dave Whims said, “People are a lot closer to you here. It’s nice, but my preference is the Cellular Center. I’ll be interested to see what happens when 1A, 2A and 3A get in here.”
The 3A quarterfinals are Wednesday night, the 1A quarterfinals Thursday afternoon, the 2A quarterfinals Thursday night.
Semifinals are Friday, the finals on Saturday.
For whatever reason, the smaller classes draw the larger crowds.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy senior Allie Hutcheson is making her fourth appearance at state, her first in the Ice Arena.
“I had my doubts, but I like it a lot,” she said. “The crowds can be so much more involved. It’s really intimate.”
Ice Arena manager Jeff Dralle said it was 63 degrees before Wednesday afternoon’s session. It felt cooler after the building emptied between sessions.
Honoring the Found family
The Union honors a fan from each team before each quarterfinal match, one that exemplifies character.
Iowa City West’s choice – Ernie Found – was an easy one.
“It was a no-brainer,” said West Coach Kathy Bresnahan. “He was the perfect pick for us. He’s a gentle giant.”
Found is the father of Caroline Found, the West setter who was killed in a moped accident Aug. 11. Twelve days later, he lost his wife Ellyn to cancer.
When he was recognized, along with the Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln representative, Found drew a loud ovation from the West crowd.
Mother-daughter coaching combo
When Angie and Paige Spangenberg were together at Red Oak, they advanced to three state tournaments — Angie as the coach; Paige as a player.
Thursday, they both coached at the Ice Arena.
Paige is an assistant at Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln, which lost in a 4A quarterfinal to Iowa City West. Angie has moved on to Harlan, which faced Dubuque Wahlert in a 3A match.
Angie’s new team beat her old team in the regional finals.