It's basketball season now, but Tripoli is focused on volleyball - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

It's basketball season now, but Tripoli is focused on volleyball

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TRIPOLI (KWWL) -- Volleyball fans and players around Iowa are learning where they'll travel for the 2011 Championship Games. Their usual venue -- the US Cellular Center -- is going through renovations. So instead of playing in the massive stadium, the top teams will battle it out at the smaller Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

Even though it is basketball season right now, the ladies in Tripoli always have one thing on their mind -- adding another trophy to their hefty collection.

"Well I guess I'm focused on basketball right now, but...." High School Junior Megan Gilbert admitted.

"It's hard to get volleyball out of your mind when you're living in Tripoli," her coach Will Baumann said.

The Tripoli Volleyball Team is a staple at the annual state tournament, and they almost always end up on top.

"They take a lot of pride in it, and they don't want to be the group to let the group before them down," Baumann explained.

"I guess there's a little pressure, but I don't think of it that way. It's just fun to play, and we work hard," said Gilbert.

The winning attitude may not change. But next year, they might lose a bit of their winning advantage. As Baumann put it, the Panthers know how what to expect as they head out on the US Cellular floor.

"If it's your first time down there, it's way different than what you would expect. Cause when you walk out from under the bleachers, all the sudden there's this large, open area. It takes awhile for depth perception to kick in," he said.

But the Ice Arena has its benefits -- fewer available seats means Tripoli's fans can really make their presence known.

"It should be, if it's like what I think it's going to be like, kind of the pinnacle of high school sports. And that's exactly what it should be. That intense environment and the competitiveness and everybody right there on you. I think it will be fun," Baumann said.

Of course, that tournament is almost a year away. Right now, there is a basketball state title for Baumann and Gilbert to focus on winning.

The tournament will return to the US Cellular Center in 2012 and is contracted to stay there through 2015.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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