NORMAL Ill. (WMBD) — The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is holding its 2023 volleyball tournament at CEFCU Arena in Normal on Friday and Saturday.

Normal’s shops, restaurants, and hotels rolled out the welcome mat for enthusiastic fans of Illinois high school volleyball. Sixteen teams from all over the state competed in the semi-finals on Friday.

Brody Vanweelden and his classmates made the two-hour trip from Rock Falls. He said having a large fan section boosts the team’s morale while also getting in the heads of the opposing team.

“We just bring a different energy,” said Vanweelden. “I feel like we get more and more people at the game we have a completely packed student section tonight so it’s been really fun. I feel like we get involved in the game and the other team might get nervous cause we have such a big student section.”

The hope is that big fan sections will also bring in big spenders.

Stacy Lambert with IHSA said state finals bring in people from all over, some coming from Effingham and Chicago.

“We have 16 teams that are bringing in all the girls, spending the night,” said Lambert. “They have meals. There’s a lot of downtime at this tournament because they only play one game a day so then they’re out in the community finding things to do. Some of them go bowling, some go to a movie, some go to Miller Park Zoo so they’re out and around spending money in the community not just at their hotel or restaurant.”

The winning teams will go on to compete in the IHSA championship Saturday.