On March 28 and 29, 98 teams will come to Long Island to compete in The LIBA Invitational, the largest volleyball tournament in New York State history hosted by LIBA, the Long Island Big Volleyball Club. The tournament will break last year's record of 76 teams and become the second largest tournament on the entire East Coast. Only the East Coast championships, held at Penn State, is larger than the LIBA Invitational.
Competitors in the all-girl tournament will range in age from 12 to 18 and come from New Hampshire to Washington, D.C. While the younger girls try to impress their parents and friends, the 16- and 18-year-olds will be trying to impress some of the 50 or 60 college coaches who will be in attendance.
Few people realize that Long Island is quickly and quietly becoming one of the country's prime areas for recruiting volleyball talent. Long Island has eight volleyball clubs (with over 30 teams), and the LIBA club alone has former graduates playing at schools such as Columbia, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, University of Pennsylvania, Siena, St. John's, Loyola (Maryland), Manhattan, NY Tech, Adelphi, and Nassau Community College.
LIBA players are members of the United States Volleyball Association (USVBA), Garden Empire Volleyball Association (GEVA), and the Atlantic Rim Power League (APRL) and compete in tournament and league competition from January until July. The girls attend volleyball camp in the summer and then play for their school teams from September until November. In 1997 LIBA teams finished the season by competing in the Sports Performance Invitational (Chicago), East Coast Championships (Penn State), West Coast Championships (California), National Championships (Colorado), and the World Youth Games (London, England).
Last year LIBA 18 Blue and LIBA 17 Black won the GEVA Regional Championships. LIBA 18 Blue finished first in the prestigious Atlantic Rim Power League then went to the National Championships in Denver, Colorado where they became the first East Coast team to win a medal (bronze) at this tournament.
Why is this club so successful? The answer is president Linda Taylor, of Rockville Centre, who is now in her fifth term as president. Over the years she has increased the size of the club, expanded the LIBA Invitational and helped LIBA teams obtain invitations to European tournaments. This year for the first time ever, Linda Taylor has achieved another goal, the establishment of a 12 and under team, to provide LIBA with championship caliber players for years to come.
* LIBA players range in age from 18 to 6.
* During each of the past three years, a LIBA player has won the EAB Scholar Athlete Award. In 1996, Chrissy Horan, of Carle Place, won and went on to play for Johns Hopkins University. In 1997, Aileen Daly, of Syosset, won and went on to play for Yale, and in 1998, Stephanie Horan, of Carle Place, won this honor and will attend the University of Pennsylvania.
* LIBA players will be attending the following colleges in 1998.
Christina Beckmann University of San Francisco
Stacey Blazejewski Dowling
Maria Taddeo Molloy
Stephanie Horan University of Pennsylvania
Liz Chapman St. John's University
* Seven of the ten positions on the 1997 Long Island scholastic team for the Empire games were filled by LIBA players as the team won the gold medal for the second straight year.
* LIBA 18 Blue has won the GEVA (NY, NJ, CT) Regional Championship for the past five years.
* Each of the high school county championship teams (Elmont, West Hempstead, Carle Place) has several LIBA players on their starting team.
* All starting players for state champ Carle Place High School played for LIBA and their coach was a former LIBA player.
* Former LIBA player Heather Glick (University of Pennsylvania) is now a professional volleyball player in France.
* LIBA has provided Johns Hopkins University with four starting players who led Johns Hopkins University to the most wins in the school's history (28).