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Daily Journal
October 18, 2022
#73-291 KDJ

Bradley-Bourbonnais wins first Moldenhauer Classic

Mason Schweizer

Darla Moldenhauer hasn’t coached or taught at Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School in nearly two decades, but the pioneer of girls sports at the school continues to be a prominent figure at the school she spent more than 30 years.

Such was the case Saturday, when Moldenhauer was on hand to watch the Boilermakers win the 36th annual Moldenhauer Classic, a 12-team volleyball tournament that was given Moldenhauer’s namesake in 2005, the fall after her retirement.

“This tournament is always so special...,” Moldenhauer said. “The teams have changed through the years, but it’s still a great day full of competition with perfect timing, 10 days or so before the postseason.”

The tournament is formatted with four three-team pools of round robin play, with each pool winner advancing to a four-team tournament that flow into a championship and third-place match.

After the morning of pool play, both the host Boilers and Beecher found themselves as pool champions, which set up the third meeting between the two teams and second of the week, one that the Boilers won 2-0 (25-19, 25-8).

Reiniche and her Boilers had a lengthy break, then watching Newark best Belleville West in three sets and the Bobcats then best Belleville West in a three-set thriller before returning to the floor for the championship match against Newark.

The Boilers made quick work of their title-match opponents by posting their fifth 2-0 victory of the day (25-21, 25-15).

“We talked about the importance of stepping up; with Newark being such a great team, we’ve got to be able to withstand some stress and be able to win this,” Reiniche said. “We’ve only won this a handful of times in all the years we’ve hosted because we have so many teams who come and are competitive.

“It’s not always about the win-loss, it’s about progression for the postseason,” she added. “I think we did that today and got the win on top of it.”

After a busy Friday night and Saturday morning of celebrating her 50th reunion at her college alma mater, Illinois State University, Moldenhauer zipped back up from Bloomington-Normal in time to watch the team she once coached, now coached by one of her own players, take home the title for the first time since 2005, the first year of the tournament being hailed as the Moldenhauer Classic.

To be able to see former players of her own like Reiniche and assistant coach Missy (Stawick) Daugherty now serving on the other side of the lines as coaches themselves, and to have success while doing so, is something Moldenhauer makes sure to stay grateful for.

“It makes me so proud of them — I love the competition and I just love them,” Moldenhauer said. “Leigh Reiniche is a coach and personality like no other — she loves it, she’s dedicated and she has the most enthusiasm out of any coach I’ve ever known.”

Reiniche, a 2000 Bradley-Bourbonnais graduate, is in her fifth season coaching her alma mater. Just like Moldenhauer’s appreciation for being able to watch her former players now serve in coaching roles, Reiniche understands how special the opportunity she has is as the Darla Moldenhauer of a new generation.

“I was here 22 years ago, getting all-tournament under this coach right here,” Reiniche said. “To come back and be able to coach kids here on this floor means a lot.”

Moldenhauer Classic All-Tournament team

Belleville West: Ashley Geluck, Elise Gibson

Beecher: Lily Avelar, Lola Eckhardt

Bradley-Bourbonnais: Kiersten Martin, Finley Westover 

Kankakee: Breanna Lamie

Momence: Lexi Hamann

Manteno: Ava Pequette

Newark: Lauren Ulrich, Kiara Wesseh

Rock Island: Mari Churchill

Moldenhauer Classic results

  1. Bradley-Bourbonnais
  2. Newark
  3. Beecher
  4. Belleville West
  5. Rock Island
  6. Kankakee
  7. Manteno
  8. Momence
  9. Bishop McNamara
  10. Wilmington
  11. Seneca
  12. Joliet Central


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Mason Schweizer
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