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The real fun's begun, but it's one-and-done for some

There is a better way. Just not in Illinois.

Last weekend, Lockport, seeded seventh in the Lockport Class 4A sectional, defeated No. 3-ranked Lyons in the finals of the Lyons quad. Thursday, the Porters were knocked out of the state tournament with a 25-19, 25-21 loss to 10th-seeded Plainfield North.

Kylee Baker had 13 kills and Sarah Scott added seven in the Tigers’ victory, their eighth straight.

“A few weeks ago we changed our offense, we changed our defense and there was a re-commitment by me and a re-commitment by the players,” Plainfield North coach Kerri McCastland said. “They bought into it. We’re better than we were yesterday.”

Lockport had a brief early lead in Game 2, but could never sustain a consistent attack. Baker, Scott and 6-2 junior middle Kaisley Fisher, a Purdue recruit, kept the Porters on their heels most of the night.

However, the loss is more a testimonial to the depth of the Lockport sectional than a knock on the Porters, who got only limited play from star all-round player Dana Raber (felled by a high ankle sprain a few weeks ago).

That Plainfield North, 22-8 after the win, is a 10th seed speaks volumes to the inequity of the IHSA tournament, which is slanted toward “geographic representation” and makes regional losers out of teams that might be sectional champions somewhere else.

It’s difficult to “sport a winning attitude” when fairness is tossed aside like a wet rag.

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Lockport wasn’t the only higher seed to go down Thursday. Among the more notable teams to fall victim to an upset were Bloom, a 25-23, 13-25, 25-22 loser to Andrew; Libertyville, a 25-14, 25-18 loser to Carmel; and Prospect, downed by Waukegan 25-10, 25-18.

Thursday also marked the end of Stephanie Holthus’ high school career. Holthus, a Northwestern recruit and one of the best outside hitters in the state, and her Burlington Central teammates succumbed to Sycamore 25-13, 17-25, 25-23.

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Looking for a good regional final Saturday?

How about Stagg and Providence at Lincoln-Way Central at 4:00 p.m.? Or Downers Grove North and Neuqua Valley at Neuqua Valley at 2:00 p.m.? Or Sycamore taking on Hampshire at Burlington Central at 7:00 p.m.? Geneva and Batavia at Addison Trail at 1:00 p.m.?

Or of you don’t mind a little drive, how about Belleville Althoff and Breese Mater Dei hooking up at 1:30 p.m. at Centralia? Or you could head west and watch Moline and Quincy at 1:00 p.m. at Moline?

Or how about my personal favorite, Rebecca Gillen and the Monmouth-Roseville Titans taking on Sherrard at (Taylor Ridge) Rockridge Saturday at 1:00 p.m.?

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Finally, the 2009 volleyball season came to a merciful end for Bridgeport Red Hill in a Class 2A regional semifinal Thursday in Grayville. The Salukis, owners of the longest losing streak in Illinois volleyball history, fell to Clay City 25-5, 25-7.

Red Hill has not won a volleyball match since October 7, 2002. The school’s losing streak is somewhere near the century-and-a-half mark (it’s hard to find reliable information on such things, but it was 147 in a row after a loss on October 21).

Red Hill is a school of 337 students in southeastern Illinois just across the border from Vincennes, Indiana. You would think they might find a few good volleyball players among the 170 or so girls in the school.

However, the school board, in its wisdom, apparently killed the middle school volleyball program a few years ago, leaving Red Hill’s ballers well behind their peers in terms of experience, training and skill level.

If anybody needs a federal bailout, it’s those folks.