Eventually, the results will be the only thing that matters, but for now the boys’ high school volleyball state tournament carries more idealistic goals.
The first state tournament of its kind took place Saturday and Sunday at Shakopee High School, a natural progression of a sport that began just two years ago but already has 50 teams and more than 800 athletes competing.
Andover topped St. Paul Harding in four sets — 25-13, 19-25, 25-7, 25-23 — to win the title, becoming state champion and the answer to a future trivia question (“Who won the first boys’ volleyball state championship?”) at the same time.
The Huskies won with height and athleticism. Andover sophomore Tommy Kelly, who has years of club volleyball experience, was the Huskies’ leading hitter, and lanky middle blocker Derek Owens was an impressive force at the net.
Harding was led by a pair of hard-hitting brothers in Newjai and Konghoua Chang but couldn’t find answers for Andover’s length up front.
“We knew we had a height advantage, and it worked in our favor,” Andover coach Calvin Rak said.
To those who have been beating the drum for boys’ volleyball, having already advanced to the state tournament stage was a justification of their passion.
“We had a boy from Minneapolis Washburn come up and thanked us for the experience,” said co-meet organizer Krista Flemming. “There was a player from Proctor/Hermantown who had been a hockey player but had gotten cancer. After three years of treatment, his cancer was gone, but he had fallen too far behind in hockey. He told us how much it meant to him to have a chance to play a sport for his school again.”
Jenny Kilkelly, the other co-organizer, said those sentiments showed the importance and impact of boys’ volleyball.
“This sport is so needed and so necessary,” Kilkelly said. “There are a huge group of athletes who can’t play baseball or soccer or football. This gives them a platform.”
THE WEEK AHEAD
Boys’ tennis: Team champions have either been determined or will be early in the week. Individual playoffs will take place throughout the week.
Softball: The first rounds of the section playoffs begin this week. Here are a few of the top seeds in Class 4A. Chanhassen was seeded No. 1 in Section 2, East Ridge in Section 3, defending state champion Stillwater in Section 4, Maple Grove in Section 5, Edina in Section 6.
Synchronized swimming: State championship meet, Thursday and Friday, at Rochester Rec Center.
Monday: Prior Lake at Eden Prairie, 7 p.m.
Monday: 22-team White Bear Lake Invite at Dellwood Hills, noon.
Monday: Mounds View at Stillwater, 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday: Moorhead at St. Michael-Albertville, 4:30 p.m.; Anoka at Blaine, 4:30 p.m.