Monday nights in the auxiliary gym, volleyball nets stretch parallel to the bleachers forming two courts. The sound of balls ricocheting around the gym can be heard from outside of the school. Trash talk and light-hearted jokes mix with the thud of volleyballs as men’s volleyball club plays regular season games.
Last year, men’s volleyball was created to fill the void between competitive high school sports and a lack of recreational options and now has entered its second year of competition.
The league is comprised of six teams who play a round robin style regular season before playing in a final tournament. The games are played under traditional rules with extra leeway for lifts and net touching.
Senior Mark Fentress created men’s volleyball and is club president and league commissioner. Fentress began men’s volleyball as a way to offer an alternative to school sports.
“I really enjoy playing volleyball, and I’m a big sports guy, but I’m not very athletic, so I thought a good sport that I could play would be volleyball,” Fentress said. “I made it because there [are] no sports for me that I wanted to play, like track or basketball, so I made it so I could play something.”
For some students who play other sports, another form of athletic competition and another way to impose their so called “dominance” is a big draw.
“I just like to win and compete, so anything that I can win, which I usually do, is enjoyable,” sophomore Sean Koetting, who also plays soccer for RBHS, said.
Another soccer player, senior Carter Gerling, uses men’s volleyball as a way to unwind and have fun away from RBHS soccer.
“[Men’s volleyball] was introduced to me sophomore year by Mark, and it was something else to do during the week, just a relaxing recreational sport that is different from competitive sports and just for fun,” Gerling said. “I like my team. Playing with them is really fun, and it’s another recreational sport.”
Senior Carly Offerdahl, who was a senior captain for the RBHS volleyball team and signed to play volleyball at the University of Central Missouri often comes to spectate and occasionally play in the games.
“Some people struggle,” Offerdahl said. “Coming in here it’s a very fun atmosphere to play with your friends. Even though they’re not the best we still have fun.”
A friendly competitive atmosphere in which even players who aren’t the best feel comfortable enough to compete and have fun is exactly what Fentress was hoping to create.
“I want to encourage a positive atmosphere where people are not making fun of other people about if they aren’t good at volleyball,” Fentress said. “I want to see a lot of enthusiasm and people really getting into the games.”
The club is not all light-hearted fun; at times the games take a serious turn with players competing hard to win and earn bragging rights.
For example, on April 13, the game between Team Sherman and reigning champions Safe Sets escalated into a well fought game filled with trash talk and money changing hands at the end of the game.
“When you’re playing really crappy teams it is kind of boring and it is a waste of time,” Gerling, a member of the team Safe Sets, said. “But when you’re playing good teams, it is fun, friendly competition.”
With Fentress graduating in May, the club’s future is in question, but Fentress hopes the club can continue with younger players stepping into leadership roles and become a RBHS tradition.
“We have four senior teams so that means a lot of recruiting is going to have to go on,” Fentress said. “But the other two teams that are not seniors are pretty dedicated, so I think they can carry out the club.”