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Hastings volleyball team gets stuck in Chicago after 24 hours of delays

A trip to Reno, Nevada, was supposed to be one of the summer's highlights for a group of volleyball players from Hastings. Instead, the trip has turned into a nightmare.

A team of 14-year-old girls, coaches and parents left Hastings yesterday at just after 4 a.m. to arrive in time to board a plane to Chicago. The plane ended up leaving 30 minutes late, at 6:30 a.m., but it appeared as though there would be plenty of time for the team to catch its connecting flight to Reno. That flight was set to leave at 9:30 a.m.

It turns out that wasn't the case.

The American Airlines plane carrying the group circled the airport in Chicago for 25 to 30 minutes. The pilot announced to those on the plane that there was a miscommunication between the control tower and the plane, and that they'd have to fly to Champaign, Ill., to refuel. They landed in Champaign, refueled and passengers were surprised to learn they'd have a two-hour layover in Champaign. By the time the flight made it back to Chicago, their connecting flight to Reno was long gone.

What was especially upsetting to the team was that nobody from American Airlines let them know that their connecting flight had left.

The airline later told Hastings coach Rita Girgen that the flight was diverted to Champaign because of the weather. Girgen said she was confused, then, as to how the connecting flight was able to leave if the weather was that poor. She said it was raining as they circled Chicago.

"American Airlines has done absolutely nothing for us," Girgen said. "They've given us the run-around. It's unbelievable. There won't be a person in this group that flies with them again."

The team stayed at the airport until about 7 p.m. last night trying to figure out a way to get to Reno Thursday.

As of 9 a.m. Thursday the team was still in Chicago. They planned to fly to Los Angeles at 3:10 this afternoon. They will rent three passenger vans in Los Angeles and make the eight-hour drive to Reno in time to play their matches early Friday morning.

The team is taking part in the 2010 USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships. They had to forfeit three matches that were planned for today.