‘Sounds like fun – and it is fun’: Boys HS volleyball growing; two C.O. teams competing in state tournament
(Update: adding video, comments from Bend boys volleyball player & coach)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- In its first year as a club, Bend High's boys volleyball team is getting a little bit better every day.
Girls assistant coach and now boys head coach Emily Kernen recruited 12 players to come out, all sophomores.
“They’re of all ability levels and it’s been great to see them grow,” Kernen said.
One of the players is sophomore Gus Karpstein.
“She just reached out to us to see if we were willing to make a team, and we said 'yeah,' because it sounds like fun -- and it is fun,” Karpstein said.
Karpstein plays football and basketball, and wanted a different challenge for his spring sport.
“I lean towards volleyball, because it’s a really different sport than the ones I play,” Karpstein said. “It’s a lot more jumping-based. I felt like it would go into my other sports really well.”
The Lava Bears are one of 25 schools across the state competing as a club team, with the hope of becoming a sanctioned sport next year.
OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber said after the approval of girls wrestling in April, the OSAA Board heard a “first reading” for boys volleyball.
“It seems like there’s a lot of momentum around boys volleyball, at least in the Portland metro area, at least some interest in outlying areas in Central Oregon and other areas,” Weber said.
Boys volleyball is one of the fastest-growing team sports in the country.
Kentucky, Missouri and Minnesota sanctioned the sport this year, joining 22 other states with established programs.
While Oregon is next up, the High Desert is slightly behind, with only Bend and Central Christian able to field a team.
Kernen said, “It's been hard, just because we don’t really have any competition right now. We only played three other teams.”
The Lava Bears hope the sport continues to grow in Central Oregon, giving boys more options during and after high school.
“It’s pretty amazing, just for the fact there's so many scholarships out there for boys, too,” Kernen said.
“I think it's a really great opportunity,” he said. “It's something I haven’t done before … I didn’t think I'd ever do it, and I have really loved it. And the team is great.”
This weekend, Bend and Central Christian are competing in the Oregon state tournament in Salem with the 23 other teams.