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The Pony Express

The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

The Pony Express

The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

The Pony Express

Boys volleyball serves up success

Photo by Alison Keeler
Senior Sam Doughty practices hitting a ball as senior Nathan Harvey tosses it for him. The pair then switched after a few tries. They did this drill during practice on March 13.

The sounds of squeaky shoes and the hitting of volleyballs echo through the gym. Serves float over the net. Jumps and dives happen in just the blink of an eye. The boys volleyball teams have been practicing hard for the new season ahead.

In May of 2023, the Minnesota State High School League implemented boys volleyball as a sanctioned sport after failing to passĀ  by only one or two votes in the last few years. Boys high school volleyball has risen in numbers more than 22% in the last five years. It is the fastest growing sport for high school boys in the country.

“The Minnesota Boys High School Volleyball Association currently runs the sport in the spring. Since its start in 2018, participation has jumped from 22 schools to 72 schools statewide, and from 400 participants to nearly 2,000 participants,” WCCO Staff reported.

This is the first year that boys volleyball will be an official MSHSL sport. Seventeen schools have been added to the list of participating teams this year including White Bear Lake, Woodbury, Cretin Durham Hall and Stillwater. Tryouts for these teams took place during the week of March 18.

Freshman Logan Komarek said his dad made him interested in playing volleyball because he played volleyball in high school when he was a kid.

Practices for the team started on March 11 and there are 25 boys participating across two teams including 13 seniors. They hold practices Monday-Thursday after school from 2:30-4 p.m. During the beginning of practice, the boys set up the nets and then warm up with a partner drill called peppering.

Junior Chace Vang explained that peppering is “basically working on skills like passing, setting and hitting. We also do a butterfly drill where we have hitting lines.”

In addition to practices, the varsity and JV teams will play official matches starting April 12. The first matches will be at St. Anthony Village High School at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The teams may expect to face some challenges this season because the sport is new to so many players.

“For me personally, there are not many freshmen on the team and being one of the youngest people is quite intimidating and I feel like those age gaps might kind of create different groups,” Komarek said.

“I expect a lot of losing [and] winning. It’s the first year so it’s gonna be a bit rocky and have some highs and lows. But I’m just hoping we all have fun and develop our skills,” C. Vang added.

Each player on the team has their own skills and specific parts that they exceed at. For some it may be having a strong and consistent serve. For others like sophomore Phillip Vang, hitting is his favorite.

“I expect a lot of losing [and] winning. It’s the first year so it’s gonna be a bit rocky and have some highs and lows. But I’m just hoping we all have fun and develop our skills.”

— Chase Vang

“I’d say I definitely enjoy hitting a lot because you can really use versatile sets as a tip or like a long spike or just a straight down hard spike,” P. Vang said.

“I kind of like the jumping aspect, the team connectivity, and the bonding that’s required to make sure everything gets done,” Komerak added.

“I’d say my favorite part about the sport is the team coordination dynamic and the importance of communication. We work together to achieve a goal,” C. Vang said.

Similar to favorite aspects, many players have come up with some personal goals that they have for the season. This could include specific skills or just overall growth as a person.

“I’m wanting to be a leader and a motivator to make sure I can bring them [the players] up when they are down and bring the energy,” P. Vang explained.

The players this season have a lot on their plates but they make time to play volleyball and they train hard to improve. Many have people they look up and they have coaches that help them learn along the way.

Komarek explained the coaches are really helpful, “they demonstrate all the drills and they make sure you understand what you are doing so it’s really easy to improve your skills.”

“There’s some people that I look up to and I’d say my older brother is a pretty good volleyball player so I’m trying to be like him,” C. Vang added.

Growing up playing competitive sports of any kind can have a large impact on a kid’s life. In regards to volleyball, the importance of being a team player, having good sportsmanship and making an effort can deeply increase the chances for success for a team.

Komarek has participated in numerous sports including soccer, skiing and mountain biking. He explained he thinks it is really helpful having something on his schedule and something to do.

“I think sports have impacted [my life], helped with my confidence and helps me build bonds with my teammates. Being ingrained in the community makes you fall in love with the sport even more,” C. Vang added.

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About the Contributor
Alison Keeler
Alison Keeler, Layout Editor-in-Chief
Alison Keeler is part of the class of 2024. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Alison is a part of an organization called Cocos Heart Dog Rescue where she fosters dogs and volunteers. She works at St. Croix Preparatory Academy for the after school child care. She also has a summer job as a counselor at Hidden Pines Ranch Day Camp. She is also a Link Leader and is a part of NHS.

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