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Boys volleyball seeks CHSAA sanction

Sport is one of three being considered through two years of pilot programs

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For more than 20 years there have been league competitions, tournaments and a state boys volleyball champion crowned, despite the fact the sport isn't sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association.

But that could change as boys volleyball, girls wrestling and unified bowling are CHSAA pilot programs for the next two years, to determine whether one or more of the sports should be sanctioned.

“The Colorado High School Boys Volleyball Association has been around for 21 years,” said Mike Prusinowski, association president. “We started back then with nine teams. Now there are more than 50 high school boys volleyball teams around the state. Some schools consider boys volleyball a club sport and quite a few schools allow the teams to use the gymnasium.”

The association teams are designated 5A and 3A. The 5A teams are varsity level and the 3A is junior varsity level. The league also allows eighth-graders to join teams.

Most schools have at least a 3A and a 5A team. Some schools, like Cherry Creek, have a 5A team and two 3A teams.

Cherry Creek is a co-op program with Bruins players, players from Overland and Smoky Hill, as well as player from Kent Denver, schools that don't have boys volleyball teams. Two guys who are home-schooled also are on the rosters.

“We have 32 guys on our teams,” Bruins coach Mike Degtis said. “The 5A roster includes guys who have been playing with us for two, three and even four years. We have a well-balanced team that passes the ball well and we have some strong hitters at the net.”

He said the Cherry Creek teams like to play a fast-paced game and press the attack. The style of play has won the 5A team all six games they have played so far this season.

Castle View also has a co-op team with players from Castle View and Douglas County high schools, as well as a player from Lutheran High School and one player who is home-schooled.

“We have 25 players on the roster, so we have a 5A team and two 3A teams,” coach Kevin Cochran said. “This is the third year with the 5A team for six of our players. One player has been with us for four seasons and we have a freshman on the roster. We are playing well and we are 5-1 so far this season. We are a balanced team with a strong attack and solid defense. We made it to state last year and our goal is to get there again.”

Heritage High School has a 3A and a 5A team, and the school opens the gymnasium to the teams when they play home games.

Hannah Eberle coaches the 5A Heritage Scarlet team.

“This is our second year, so we are young,” she said. “We have a 3A and a 5A team. Our guys are athletic and play hard. Some have never played competitive volleyball before so they are learning as they compete. I was pleasantly surprised that so many schools are competing in boys volleyball and I think it is great that the sport is seeking to be sanctioned by CHSAA.”

She said she has 11 players on the 5A team and nine players on the 3A team. Five of the 5A players have been with the Heritage team since it was established last year.

Jordan Phung is a two-year veteran with the Heritage team.

“Both my parents played volleyball when they were younger and lived in Canada and they got me interested in the sport,” he said. “Volleyball is fun and I really like that I have to jump a lot because I am pretty good at jumping and hitting the ball. When I go up to hit, I hit the ball as it sets for me and I always try to drive the ball hard to an open spot on the court.”

The senior said he likes playing volleyball and he hopes the sport is sanctioned by CHSAA and continues to grow.

The boys volleyball regular season begins in early March. Playoffs for 5A and 3A team begin in early May.

The 5A teams are divided into the north and the south leagues. Based on league records, the top six teams in each league will advance to regionals held May 4 and 5.

There will be three teams in each of the four regions. The top two regionals finishers advance to the state playoffs that begin May 12 at a site that hasn't been set yet. Ralston Valley won the state 5A championship last year.

The 3A teams are divided into four leagues — east, west, central and south. The top four teams advance to one of the four regionals. The top two teams in each region advance to state. Vanguard won the 3A state championship in 2017.

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