Eighth-year head volleyball coach Angie Kalizewski has steadily been stacking the field in the annual Norwalk Invitational. But she may have outdone herself, this time.
The past four Div. II state champions — and including host Norwalk, a state finalist from the past five seasons are among the eight teams on Saturday. To go a little further, six of the past nine Div. II state champs will be at the high school.
“We have a big weekend ahead of us,” Kalizewski said. “Our home tournament is always a very competitive weekend. We bring in the best to play the best — and try to be the best. We are excited for the rest of the week.”
The event is headlined by Parma Padua Franciscan, the defending state champions , which also has a long history with host Norwalk. Not only did the Bruins beat Norwalk last season in a regional championship match, but the two programs also split regional final matches in 2012 (Norwalk) and 2014 (Padua).
The Bruins also won state titles in 2008, 2009 and 2013.
Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin is also in the tournament again. The Lions won back-to-back state titles in 2014 and 2015, and fell in the regional finals last season.
NDCL beat Norwalk in last year’s title match in two games at the Invitational.
Div. I Cleveland St. Joseph Academy also comes to the Maple City, fresh off reaching the state semifinals last season. Lexington is also in the field, two years removed from a Div. II state semifinal appearance.
New to the field this year is Marian Catholic, which will make the 2-hour, 15-minute drive from Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
The Mustangs were 24-10 last season, falling in the Class A quarterfinals — which is the equivalent of the regional title match in Ohio. In 2013, the Mustangs were the Michigan Class A state runners-up.
Holland Springfield (state trips in 1981, 1983), Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown and Norwalk (1993, 2002, 2012) round out the eight teams.
The tournament begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, with Norwalk facing Lexington in the main gym and Hathaway Brown vs. Springfield in the auxiliary gym.
They will be followed at roughly 10:15 a.m. by St. Joseph vs. Cathedral Latin in the main gym, with Marian Catholic against Padua in the auxiliary gym.
The tournament is expected to conclude at 3:15 p.m. with the title match and third-place match. Trophies will be presented to the two teams in the championship match.
All-day admission costs $6 for adults and $5 for children. The concessions stand will be open throughout the day.