The James Hart Panthers volleyball team is going to the state championship this weekend.
The team had a 10-0 record to advance to the regional match against Flossmoor’s Parker Junior High. After that win, the team won in sectionals against Chicago Heights Middle School. The state tournament opens Friday with the Hart team competing against Taylorville Junior High School. The match will be at Mahomet-Weymour High School.
The winners of that Friday match will advance to the quarterfinal round on Saturday morning. The state champions will be decided in a matchup that afternoon.
Going to state this year gives the team a chance to make up for their state tournament bid that was pulled in spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the girls, like Quinn Hanna, were on the Panthers 2020 team as sixth graders. Quinn, who is a setter but also likes defense, is “very excited” to be on the comeback team going to state competition.
There was no volleyball season last year since schools were closed and learning was remote.
Coaches Katie Nigro and Chelsea Jones are first-time coaches, but both played volleyball before they became teachers. Jones played for the Panthers when she was a student at James Hart.
“We’re lucky, we have height and skill and aptitude,” Nigro said of the team.
Team members are eighth graders Angelena Alborn, Kylie Blasgen, Alayna Frangella, Macy Hamer, Quinn Hanna, Dakota Hoekstra, Anika Izenbart, Paige Taylor, Isabella Thurman, Cyanna Wasniowski and Addison Woodward.