Welcome to Our House
Often referred to as the "Hawk House," the Ironwood Ridge Volleyball Gymnasium has been home to Nighthawk Volleyball since the 2002 season. The gym serves as the school's auxiliary gym by day, but becomes the school's official volleyball venue on game night for both men's and women's volleyball teams.
The energetic and boisterous home crowds have sparked the women's team to a 104-13 (.889) all-time record for all matches played in the friendly confines of the Nighthawk Court since 2002, including a 23-match home win streak from 2006 to 2008. In 2008, the Nighthawks went 11-0 setting a new record for home matches. That record was later matched in 2010 as the Nighthawks advanced to their fourth consecutive State semi-final appearance after dropping only a total of three sets at home and again in 2013.
The Volleyball Gym has also hosted opening round State Tournament matches, where the home crowd has been favorable to the Nighthawks come playoff time as the volleyball program is a perfect 16-0 in State Tournament matches played at home. The Nighthawks broke the attendance record on November 7, 2013 when a record crowd of 573 witnessed one of the best high school volleyball matches in Ironwood Ridge history as the #2 seeded Nighthawks outlasted #10 Notre Dame Prep 26-28, 25-13, 26-24, 18-25, 17-15 in the second round of the Division II State Tournament.
In 2010, prepvolleyball.com, a leading online publication for high school and junior volleyball, declared Ironwood Ridge as the “Best Home-Court in the Nation” with it’s House of Horrors search. Later in 2011, ESPN also named the gym as one of the toughest places to play in it’s High School online site, ESPNHS.com.
Best Home Court in the Nation | prepvolleyball.com
Written by Mike Miazga
Reprinted from prepvolleyball.com | October 12, 2010
HOUSE OF HORRORS WINNER | The “Volleyball Venue” as coach Bill Lang calls it, takes the cake here, folks, based on sheer ingenuity. An auxiliary gym at the 10-year-old high school was transformed into a volleyball-specific facility. Now how many volleyball-only high school facilities are there in the country? Odds are when you’re done doing the math you’ll have more than five fingers left over.
Lang used the University of Nebraska’s NU Coliseum and Washington State’s home arena as guidelines for the Ironwood Ridge facility.
“The volleyball lines are over the basketball lines,” Lang explains. “The gym features a six-foot border around the volleyball court (similar to places like Nebraska), has seating for 450 fans, a new $8,500 sound system and has pictures and banners displaying Ironwood Ridge volleyball all-state alumni.”
Very cool stuff. The limited seating (by design) in the gym creates an amplified environment.
“If you put in 400 or 500 fans it sounds like three or four thousand,” Lang says. “If would put those same 400 or 500 in the bigger gym, it doesn’t sound as loud. It’s such a close encounter here. It makes it much more intimate.”
Ironwood Ridge also benefits from strong student support. Patterned after Nebraska’s 12th man in football, Ironwood Ridge has the “7th Man” for volleyball.
“They come out in the ‘7th Man’ shirts,” Lang says. “They get pretty loud out there. We have opponents that walk in here and don’t like playing here because it’s loud and it’s a small gym and we bring out a good crowd.”
Lang, who notes opposing coaches have complained about not being able to hear during timeouts at state tournament matches the school has hosted over the years, recalls a previous playoff match where an out of area team came to face Ironwood Ridge.
“Everybody from the other team is wondering why are we playing in an auxiliary gym,” he says. “And then we told them this is the volleyball gym. The opposing coach relayed a message after the match that he thought it was the best place they’ve ever played in.”
Ironwood Ridge senior middle hitter Morgan Eaton says the team takes great pride in having its own building to call home.
“A lot of schools have basketball courts or a basketball gym, but nobody has just a volleyball gym,” she says. “It’s great. It’s a smaller place that gets really loud. A lot of other teams don’t like it. They’re not used to it. Our crowd gets us pumped up and ready to play.”
Lang recently reported Ironwood Ridge had a 34-1 home mark since 2007 and was 10-0 in state tournament matches it has hosted since the school’s first varsity season.
The only loss came to Hamilton High School.
“Ironwood Ridge has a great set-up for girls’ volleyball Hamilton coach Sharon Vanis says. “We were fortunate to come away with a victory. Although it is intimidating because of the closeness of their great fans, most athletes feed on that kind of atmosphere. Our girls did just that. I think Bill has the best setup. It is his ‘house,’ and I’m sure his girls take great pride and ownership. The lines on the court are volleyball lines. The closeness makes 100 fans seem like a lot more. I’m sure Bill has stolen a few games from teams with his home court advantage, but we loved playing there. Actually, every coach would want an atmosphere like he has created.