LEMONT, Ill. (WLS) — The IHSA has disqualified the Lemont High School girls volleyball team from playing in the Illinois state playoffs after the team broke one of organization’s rules.
Team members learned on the eve of their first state playoff game that they were declared ineligible because they played one more regular season match than the rules allowed.
“It was a group of girls crying in the room hearing all their dreams for the season ended,” senior team member Adyson Duvall said.
The team wore their jerseys to school Wednesday even though they don’t have a game. Their season has come to a sudden end.
“They’ve done all the work to show what they can do, and for that to be taken away without notice, it was devastating,” Adyson’s mother, Amy Duvall, said.
The team finished the regular season with 27 wins. Because they won and advanced in several multi-team tournaments, they played extra matches, which put them over the IHSA limit for the regular season.
“We feel we shouldn’t be punished for the responsibility of the adults,” senior team member Riley Conry said.
The school’s athletics director issued a statement about the situation.
“Our student-athletes did nothing wrong,” the statement read in part. “I am very sorry our players are forced to pay for my mistake. This was an inadvertent scheduling oversight, and not an intentional act.”
The statement also said the school offered a number of other penalties, but the IHSA instead chose to disqualify them from the playoffs.
“These girls need to be out there playing,” said Scott Swiderski, a father of a team member. “They deserve to play. They didn’t do anything wrong. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.”
The team has never made it to the final four teams that go to state. They were the number-one seed in the regional, and they were hoping this year’s team would be the first to make it to the final four.
IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson issued a statement Wednesday:
“The season limitation by-law exists in every IHSA sport in order to provide competitive equity among the schools as they enter into competition in the IHSA State Series. As unfortunate as the result may be, these teams received a competitive advantage that no other team in the tournament received, and there is over 40 years of precedence dictating that violating this rule excludes a team from State Series participation. Neither myself, the IHSA staff, nor the IHSA Board of Directors derive any joy in delivering this decision, but we are tasked with upholding the rules our member schools put into place.”