It’s volleyball time in Tyler, or at least it will be on August 11.
The four local TAPPS teams will host 36 visitors in the second annual TAPPS Preseason Volleyball Invitational.
The games will be held over the weekend at Grace Community, Bishop Gorman, All Saints and Bullard Brook Hill. The venues will use all of their gymnasiums to host 40 pool-play matches on Friday, Aug. 11 before the teams are separated based on their pool record into four brackets, which begin double-elimination play on Saturday, Aug. 12.
A year ago, Gorman held what was called Border Wars Volleyball Invitational. The eventual champion was San Antonio Holy Cross, which defeated Rockwall Heritage.
Steve Prud’homme, TAPPS associate director, said last year went so well, they decided to up the ante and Tyler’s four TAPPS schools were happy to assist.
“It’s grown from 16 teams to 40,” said Prud’homme, a Gorman graduate and former Crusaders coach.
“The experience those 16 teams had when they came to Tyler (also was a factor). You have four local teams and 36 coming from out of town, so that's going to be a heck of a good thing and a heck of a good thing for Tyler.”
The event features three reigning state champions - Austin St. Michaels (TAPPS 5A), Lubbock Trinity Christian (TAPPS 4A) and Rockwall Heritage Christian (TAPPS 3A).
San Antonio Incarnate Word reached the TAPPS 6A state tournament a year ago, along with state semifinalists Sugarland Fort Bend Christian (5A), Sherman Texoma Christian (2A), Arlington Pantego Christian (4A), San Antonio Holy Cross (5A), Houston St. Thomas Episcopal (4A), Irving The Highlands (3A) and Round Rock Christian (3A). Round Rock, St. Thomas and Holy Cross lost in the state final.
Of the 40 teams, 16 have captured state titles in their history. Lubbock Trinity wrapped up its third in a row last season and sixth overall since 1995.
“After we were here (last year) we were thinking, ‘Hey, let’s make this a tournament,” said Bryan Bunselmeyer, TAPPS Executive Director. “I think by (showcasing) 40 teams in Tyler, we will be ‘the event’ in Tyler that weekend.”
Bunselmeyer said TAPPS reached out to Tyler Junior College and UT Tyler to use their facilities as well, but “we couldn’t make it work.”
“We came down in January and were (also) looking to bring our state basketball tournament back to Tyler,” Bunselmeyer continued. “The fortunate part for Tyler is TJC and UT Tyler are pretty good in basketball and volleyball … which means their facilities are less (available).
“Here having four schools with both gyms at each will give us the space and opportunity to host this event. It will give is the opportunity within a small locale, that if you want to go see another team in another gym, you can just drive down the street as opposed to being in four different cities.”
Bunselmeyer said the DFW area creates problems for fans and teams because of the traffic and time it takes to get from one venue to another.
“Driving 10 blocks in the Metroplex may take you longer than driving all the way across Tyler,” Bunselmeyer said.
Speaking of driving, teams will be coming to Tyler from as far as south as Mission Juan Diego (550 miles), and as far north as Amarillo San Jacinto (460 miles).
The championship game will be held at All Saints’ Bruce G. Brookshire Gymnasium on Saturday, Aug. 12.
“We are calling this official start to the 2017 TAPPS volleyball season,” Prud’homme said. “It starts right here with this tournament in Tyler. … This is how we are going to bookend our season. It starts in Tyler and on the road to state.”
TAPPS Pre-Season Volleyball Invitational Tournament
Participating Teams (2016 season finish)
(Area teams bold)
All Saints (5A, Regional)
Amarillo San Jacinto Christian (4A, Bi-District)
Arlington Pantego Christian (4A, State Semifinals)
Austin Brentwood Christian (4A, Regional)
Austin Hyde Park (5A, Area)
Austin Regents (5A, Regional)
Austin St. Dominic Savio (5A, No playoffs)
Austin St. Michael’s (5A, State Champion)
Bishop T.K. Gorman (5A, No playoffs)
Bullard Brook Hill (5A, Bi-District)
Carrollton Prince of Peace (5A, Area)
Episcopal School of Dallas (SPC North, State Finals)
Fort Worth Bethesda Christian (2A, Regional)
Fort Worth Southwest Christian (5A, Bi-District)
Frisco Legacy Christian (5A, Bi-District)
Grace Community (5A, Area)
Grapevine Faith Christian (5A, Bi-District)
Houston Cypress Christian (4A, No playoffs)
Houston Northland Christian (4A, Regional)
Houston St. Pius X (6A, Regional)
Houston St. Thomas Episcopal (4A, State Finals)
Houston Emery/Weiner School (5A, Bi-District)
Irving The Highlands (3A, State Semifinals)
Kennedale Fellowship (4A, No playoffs)
League City Bay Area Christian (4A, Bi-District)
Lubbock Trinity Christian (4A, State Champion)
Midland Classical Academy (3A, Regional)
Mission Juan Diego Academy (3A, Area)
New Braunfels Christian (2A, Area)
Plano Prestonwood (6A, Regional)
Rockwall Heritage Christian (3A, State Champion)
Round Rock Christian (3A, State Finals)
San Antonio Holy Cross (5A, State Finals)
San Antonio Incarnate Word (6A, State Semifinals)
Sherman Texoma Christian (2A, State Semifinals)
Sugar Land Fort Bend Christian (5A, State Semifinals)
The Woodlands Christian (4A, Bi-District)
The Woodlands John Cooper (SPC South, Third Place)
Wichita Falls Christ Academy (1A, Regional)
Willow Park Trinity Christian (3A, Regional)