DALLAS, Texas (July 1, 2019) – Football still rules in Texas, but boys volleyball is working to gain a foothold.
It has helped that this week boys volleyball is on full display at the USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championships at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
There are 30 teams from Texas competing.
Nathan Lietzke (8 in photo above), a setter for Austin Junior Volleyball (AJV) 18 Mizuno competing in the Open Division, is among those enjoying the home-state support.
“It’s really special for all of us,” he said. “I have some of my family here. A bunch of the guys have their friends and family coming. Even some of the other Texas teams have been watching us. It’s been great.”
Lietzke, who comes from a volleyball family, helps prove that there is volleyball talent to be found in the Lone Star State. He was named one of the top-seven players on the 2019 Volleyball Magazine Boys Top 10 and later this summer will be trying out for the U.S. Boys Youth National Team that will compete at the FIVB World Championship. He has signed to play for Stanford in the fall.
His teammate, outside hitter Merrick McHenry, is committed to UCLA and has also been part of USAV’s high performance pipeline. Outside hitter Jared Phelan (10 in photo above) is committed to Lewis.
AJV 18s Head Coach John Corbelli hopes having BJNCs in Dallas helps more talented boys athletes look at volleyball as an option.
“My team has a real nice collection of athletes,” Corbelli said. “There are a lot of those kids in Texas who get discouraged by influencers who push them to other sports.
“All my guys are going to play college volleyball except one, who is going to Pepperdine to be a manager. They have gotten great experiences and great opportunities to go to school.
“The opportunities are growing and I hope boys will take advantage.”
The BJNC uses a staggered start and finish for divisions over the course of the eight-day tournament played on 57 courts. Open and USA Division teams must qualify through USA Volleyball bid tournaments held across the country, or through at-large selections based on results at bid tournaments.
2019 USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championships Schedule
- 18 Open, USA and Club Divisions: June 30-July 3
- 17 Open, USA and Club Divisions: July 4-7
- 16 Open, USA And Club Divisions: July 2-5
- 15 Open and Club Divisions: July 3-6
- 14 Open and Club Divisions: July 1-4
- 13 Club Division: July 5-7
- 12 Club Division: June 30-July 2
Sport Court is the official athletic flooring for all USA Volleyball national championship events.