What 912 Savannah Area Boys' Volleyball Teams Spike Support for a GHSA Sanctioned Sport?

By Jeff Moeller/Special to the Prep Sports Report | April 1, 2024

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Last season, Islands' head girls' volleyball coach, Jessica Decker, was excited and intrigued about beginning a boys' volleyball program on the club level.

This season, Decker's expectations certainly have heightened with the thoughts about the future.

Decker, along with the 37 other high school coaches in the state, expects boy's volleyball will become a fully sanctioned GHSA sport next spring. Currently, 19 –or half  –of the boys' volleyball programs are located in the Atlanta core area, and Savannah Classical, Richmond Hill, Glynn Academy, and New Hampstead have teams in the greater Savannah area.

The veteran head coach believes the boys' game is a long time coming. She has a total of 16 players between the junior varsity and varsity squads, and they have 13 matches this season. 


Islands High School Boys Volleyball Team

"We have had youth programs at Islands over the years," she said. "There have been more and more programs developing, and it is picking up more interest. There was a feeling last year that there would be just a few teams, and the numbers wouldn't be high. 

"But that really hasn't happened. We were happy to have 15 to 20 players out the past two years. Things have run a lot smoother this year than last. Still, it was a good opening year for us to work on how to coach things for this year."

Statesboro head coach Rhianna Brown has had a combined total of 40 participants over the past two years, having as many as 25 combined players on the junior varsity and varsity squads.

She has watched her squad develop quickly over the past two years. The bulk of her team was comprised of seniors and sophomores last season. 

"Last year went great, and we really didn't have any issues," said Brown. "We have a very good junior class back, and they are very competitive and learn from each other. We have worked on our rotations, and they want to do everything the right way."

Savannah Classical head coach Nick Lavery also saw a meteoric upswing in the interest of the program. He has attracted 22 of the 70 boys in the high school to the program and has watched them evolve as well. In his inaugural season last year, his squad was 7-7.

"I always have worked on the game with the boys in my PE class, and this came out of nowhere two years ago," said Lavery, who had been at the school for five years. "I'm really excited about it. All of the boys were excited as well to get going with it.

"Last year, it was a matter of trying to figure it out. At first, the boys were just trying to spike and dunk on each other. Now you see them working on their hitting, passing, and defense. It has become a contagious sport in the school, as we have a ton of freshmen out. The boys have really improved on their techniques. 

Teams do not receive any direct funding from their schools or the state. However, there is a grant from the Southern Region Volleyball Association that has provided some relief. Local schools have relied on fundraisers to help support their cause.

The interest keeps rising, but unfortunately does, the overall costs to keep it going.

"We have had to rely on several types of fundraisers to keep going," added Brown. "It hasn't always been easy. We hope that it is made a sport soon before interest begins to fizzle out."

Decker stated how the sport is gradually removing the perception about it.

"There is a stigma about volleyball that it is a girls' sport," said Decker, who has been the girls' head coach for the past six seasons." But most of my team is football and basketball players. There is a big difference between the speed and the strength of the boys' and girls' sports.

"The boys' sport has grown in South Carolina and Florida, the two neighboring states and that should help. More people have come out to see it, and the barriers have been broken down. There was a fear that it would take away from the other sports, but that shouldn't happen."

People hear about volleyball and think it is just a girls' sport," noted Brown. "But parents and their kids are becoming more educated about it through social media. 

All three coaches are confident the state will adopt the boys' game as a sanctioned sport next spring. Their teams will compete in a state-wide tournament in Roswell on May 11.  

"In my honest opinion, I do believe it will be a sanctioned sport next year," stressed Decker. "It keeps picking up more interest." I believe most of the other schools will look to begin programs once it becomes sanctioned."


Photo Credit - Islands High School Voleyball Program

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The "Coach" Karl DeMasi has been teaching and coaching for the past 35 years on all levels of academia and athletics. One of his hobbies has been writing, announcing and talking about sports. DeMasi has been involved in the Savannah Area sports scene since 1995, and he created the high school magazine "The Prep Sports Report" in 2000. In 2010, the "Coach" started broadcasting The Karl DeMasi Sports Report. He's still going strong, broadcasting on Facebook live and Twitter live every Saturday morning. You gotta love it!

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