LAFAYETTE, La. — The CajunDome’s floor is in flux on Monday morning. But the LHSAA State High School Volleyball Tournament comes our way Thursday, and what does having this tournament here mean our area? A great team has made it all happen.
“They called me as soon as they found out the Ponchartain Center (in Kenner) not being available,” recalls Ruthie Dugal, Officials Liaison to the LHSAA State Tournament. “And she (Karen Hoyt of the LHSAA) said, ‘We need to find a facility that we can host’.”
“Kenner can’t host it and we’re looking for another place,” remembers Teurlings Head Volleyball Coach Terry Hebert. “Immediately, Ruthie said, ‘If we can get some courts into the CajunDome, there’s a pretty good chance we can have it here.”
Hurricane Ida set all of this in motion, and as goes life, so goes volleyball. Damage done in the city of Kenner opened up a golden opportunity for volleyball in the city of Lafayette. “The circumstances in our getting the tournament are tough, and our thoughts and prayers are still with the people dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Ida,” explains Ben Berthelot, President and CEO of the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission. “But we do see this as a great opportunity.”
“We call this a prestige event because of the recognition that it brings,” continues Berthelot, “but also a lot of room nights. Rooms started filling up even before it was officially announced as people started getting word that it might be here.”
In just four days, the CajunDome floor will be converted from a concert stage to a basketball court to multiple volleyball courts. So, yes, there’s lots of work that needs to be done. “We’re gonna’ have to push these bleachers in to open up the floor so we can get our three courts set up for Thursday and Friday,” Dugal says, “and then, on Friday afternoon, we’re gonna’ have to pull these bleachers back on for the finals on Saturday.”
With 13 of the 40 teams participating from the Acadiana area, that, says Teurlings Head Coach Terry Hebert, provides a golden opportunity for local middle school coaches to bring their players and see the best-of-the-best.
“Just to kind of see it on a higher level,” explains Hebert. “The best in the state and what they can aspire to be one day if they want to play keep playing the sport.”
One other note: Come the spring, the select high school basketball championships will take place here at the Dome. But again, it all begins with the bump, set and the spike that starts this Thursday.
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