By MIKE ECKERT
TRAVERSE CITY — When St. Francis jumped out to a hot start on Thursday en route to the Class C regional volleyball title over Johannesburg-Lewiston, co-coaches Heather Simpson and Rita Jones attributed it to a bus ride.
Despite the fact that the Gladiators were playing at home.
"We take a bus ride to our own gym," Simpson said. "It just relaxes everybody. I don't know why, but we like to ride on a bus. So we'll keep taking the bus wherever we go."
On Tuesday, the Gladiators will take another bus ride — only it'll be a longer one than first expected.
Traverse City West was scheduled to host the Class C state quarterfinal on Tuesday between the Gladiators (40-7-3) and Calumet. However, the MHSAA has moved the game to a neutral site and now the teams will play at Manistique on Tuesday in the second game of a doubleheader.
Onaway and Crystal Falls Forest Park will square off at 5 p.m. at Manistique in Class D action. The St. Francis match will begin 25 minutes after the first game is over, however St. Francis athletic director Tom Hardy suggested fans arrive by 6 p.m.
Hardy said a student bus is being organized and people can call the athletic office at 946-1180 on Monday for more information.
Calumet enters the match as one of the top teams in the Upper Peninsula. The fourth-ranked Copper Kings are in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009. Earlier this year, they played at the Cadillac Invitational and lost to the host Vikings, but beat TC Central.
The regional title for St. Francis last week was its first since 1997.
Leland will also be on the road Tuesday in the Class D quarterfinals as the Comets (44-10-4) travel to Big Rapids to face top-ranked Battle Creek St. Philip. The match starts at 7 p.m.
"It's a challenge, but in order to win a state championship you have to beat them," Leland coach Laurie Glass said after winning the regional title on Thursday. "So the quarterfinals is as good a time as any."
The Fighting Tigers have won the last six Class D state titles. In fact, the last team to beat them was Leland for the crown in 2006.
This is the second straight quarterfinal appearance for the Comets. Last year, state runner-up Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian beat them in five games.
While St. Francis, Leland and Onaway will all be on the road Tuesday, Cadillac will get to stay home for a Class B quarterfinal against Whitehall. Both Viking squads enter ranked in the state poll, with Whitehall No. 4 and Cadillac No. 8.