A Growing Sport: Boys Volleyball Popularity Rising in Texas

Photo By Jamey Wright

Originally Appeared on VYPE

TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS FANS ARE AWARE – the Lone Star State's girls' volleyball is among the best – if not THE best – in the world.

Recently, there's been a movement for Texas high school boys' volleyball.

While the exact number isn't confirmed, there are less than 100 boys' Texas high school volleyball teams in existence today.

The Southwest Preparatory Conference has nine teams that include Episcopal, Kinkaid and St. John's in the Houston-area and St. Andrew's and St. Stephens in the Austin area. There are 20-30 more teams (mostly private schools) in the Dallas Metroplex area, but none are sanctioned by the University Interscholastic League (UIL). Compare that to over 1,200 UIL-sanctioned girls' teams.

The approach to high school boys' volleyball in Texas is the "club" space – a group of teams that play at the high school level, but in the private sector. Think lacrosse, which is sanctioned by the Texas High School Lacrosse League. Or hockey, which has a few club organizations.

Boys' volleyball has a lot of growing to do on a national scale. On the collegiate front, the NCAA has only 45 schools that compete.

"The boys' game has a ways to go," stated Butch Hart, the "Godfather" of Texas volleyball media. "There's some really good talent out there. In my opinion, Nathan Lietzke (St. Andrews High School; Austin Juniors Club Volleyball) is the best player in the state – he's going to Stanford on scholarship.

"The key to growing the boys' game will be finding a time period when they can play. Texas high school sports is packed – football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball, track, soccer and lacrosse in the spring. There must be a time when you can get boys to play volleyball."


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Altuve's homer starting the scoring for Houston on Friday night. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
After a solid showing to take the three of the four-game series in Arlington against the Rangers to start the week, the Astros returned home for three against the Diamondbacks in a weekend series. They would have a slow start to the opener but would ultimately come away victorious.

Final Score (10 innings): Astros 4, Diamondbacks 3

Astros' Record: 87-60, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (3-4)

Losing Pitcher: Tyler Clippard (1-1)

Bielak makes the impromptu start

With Luis Garcia having to move his start ahead by a day on Thursday instead of Friday with Framber Valdez's finger cut, Brandon Bielak made a start for Houston in the opener against Arizona. He didn't go as deep as he probably would have wanted and certainly ventured out of his comfort zone with traffic on the bases.

He loaded the bases in the top of the first, allowing a single and two walks, but was able to strand all three to keep it a scoreless game. He rebounded with a 1-2-3 second, but he dealt with a threat again in the third as back-to-back singles pressured him to start the inning. He would get back-to-back strikeouts, but that's as far as he would go as Houston moved on to Blake Taylor. Taylor got the final out of the third on one pitch, then erased a two-out double in the top of the fourth.

Altuve breaks up the no-no with a go-ahead homer

Brooks Raley took over in the top of the fifth, but in his three batters, he faced allowed a single while getting two outs before Cristian Javier took over to end the frame. Javier allowed the first run of the game in the top of the sixth, a leadoff solo homer to Kole Calhoun to put the Diamondbacks in front 1-0 before he finished the inning.

Madison Bumgarner didn't allow a single hit to the Astros through the first five and two-thirds innings. He allowed a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth, which proved costly as Jose Altuve would get the first knock of the game for Houston, a two-run go-ahead homer. Phil Maton was the next reliever for the Astros in the top of the seventh, maintaining the new one-run lead by erasing a leadoff single.

Astros get the win in extras

The Diamondbacks tied it up in the top of the eighth against Kendall Graveman, getting a leadoff single followed by a walk, then later an RBI single to knot things up 2-2. Houston stranded a runner in the bottom of the eighth, then brought in Ryan Pressly, who tossed a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to keep the game tied.

Despite getting the winning run in scoring position with a leadoff ground-rule double by Jason Castro to start the bottom of the ninth, they would strand it as the game went to extras. Arizona scored their free runner in the top of the tenth, getting a sac fly to move it to third then going in front on an RBI single.

The Astros matched that and more in the bottom of the inning, moving their runner to third on a lineout to start the frame, followed by an intentional walk to Yordan Alvarez. Jake Meyers tied the game with an RBI single, then after another walk to load the bases, Chas McCormick was hit by a pitch to bring in the winning run, moving the Astros closer to clinching their playoff berth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will have a start time of 6:10 PM Central on Saturday. Tyler Gilbert (2-2, 3.15 ERA) is expected to make a start for Arizona, while Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.12 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston.

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