WINDOM -- The beginning of the Big South Conference volleyball season has a new look this year. On Aug. 26 at Windom Area High School, the league is set to debut the Big South Conference Showcase which will feature seven games between the 13 conference schools as well as Martin County West of the Valley Conference in a single location.
“I just think for true volleyball enthusiasts, it should be a great day to come out and see some great volleyball if that’s what their heart desires,” Windom Area head volleyball coach Ron Wendorff said.
The Showcase kicks off at 10 a.m. with Redwood Valley vs. St. James Area. That game is followed by Luverne vs. Fairmont at 11:30 a.m., Worthington vs. Waseca at 1 p.m., Pipestone vs. Martin County West at 2:30 p.m., Marshall vs. Blue Earth Area at 4 p.m., Jackson County Central vs. St. Peter at 5:30 p.m., and concludes with Windom vs. New Ulm at 7 p.m. There will also be B-and C-squad games, but no teams from the same school will play simultaneously.
“You’re bringing your bus to Windom, you might as well bring all your teams,” Wendorff said.
The single-location event replaces the Big South Conference Crossover, which pitted equally-ranked teams from the East and West divisions at the end of the season. In the future, the Showcase will use the same formula and equally ranked teams from the previous season will play each other, but since they all played to end the season in 2016, they decided to mix things up.
“Normally the first-place teams play each other, and the second-place teams play each other,” Wendorff said. “We just looked at who finished where last year, and looked at teams that would rather not play each other early because they play each other during the regular season. We tossed things around a little bit and that’s how we figured out who to play this year.”
Windom was chosen to host the showcase due to its central location in the conference geographically.
Initially the schools wanted the showcase to be late in the year, but most of the teams already had weekend tournaments scheduled late in the season and they just couldn’t find a day that would work for everybody. So they moved it to the first weekend of the season, which everybody had open.
“We’re hoping that it goes well this year and everybody likes it, and we will continue to do it at the beginning of the season,” Wendorff said. “We will probably tweak it a little bit if we find some things we don’t like about it.”
Having every team in the conference playing in the same building early in the season definitely has some benefits for the coaches.
“That’s going to be a great thing from the coaching perspective because you get a chance to see everybody and maybe scout a little bit,” he said.
But, the coach said, the teams won’t necessarily look the same during the early-season showcase as they will later in the season. There are only 12 days to prepare between the start of practice on Aug. 14 and the showcase, so he certainly doesn’t expect to see teams in midseason form.
“It will be a good testing point for us,” he said. “We have a match that Thursday, but sometimes those early season games will be a little sloppy. We’ll see how it goes.”