There’s parity in boys’ HS volleyball – but big schools rule

If the right teams are involved, a high school tournament is a good way to get a snapshot look at how the competition stacks up among the better teams.

The Brophy Prep Tournament over the weekend did just that in boys’ volleyball.

Six of the eight teams that played in the Broncos’ tournament were ranked among The Republic‘s Top 10 teams, with No. 4 Gilbert High School beating neighboring rival, No. 7 Highland High, for the championship.

The host team, ranked No. 6 going into the tourney, finished in third place after winning its pool on the opening day.

Gilbert also placed two of its players on the All Tournament Team, as Cody Martin and Ty Hutchins got the honors.  Brophy’s Nick Benson, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, was also selected and joined Jimmy Gehrels from Salpointe Catholic; Alex Davis from Coronal del Sol High School; and Boulder Creek‘s Jack Myers.

But an interesting aspect of the tournament results was the fourth-place finish of Corona del Sol, which went into the event with the No. 1 ranking.  And, along the way, the Aztecs were beaten by Boulder Creek High School – which was the No. 8 team.

Tucson’s Sahuaro High School, the No. 3 ranked team, didn’t play in the Brophy Tournament, but opted instead for the Notre Dame Prep tournament in Scottsdale – which they won by coasting to a two-set victory over un-ranked Williams Field High School.

But the results of the Brophy tournament illustrate the parity that exists this season in boys’ volleyball, as rankings meant little in the overall competition.  Corona is probably a good example of the movement at the top, as the Aztecs have worked their way through the season from the bottom of the top 10 to the very top – at least until the next rankings come out.

And the rankings themselves tell yet another story.  All of the schools in the top 10 play in the large-school divisions in the various sports and are able to compete at that level.  While that’s fine for most sports, since the smaller schools just drop down into a different division, it doesn’t provide a level playing field in boys’ volleyball since the sport went from two divisions to just one division this year.

That puts the small schools in direct competition with the large schools, making the road to a state championship almost impossible.

If the situation doesn’t change, it will mean the smaller schools that don’t have the program yet will be discouraged from adding it.  And those in it now, many of whom just added boys’ volleyball in recent years, may decide the struggle isn’t worth it.

But for now, the big boys will have to fight it out – and it looks like there will be no clear-cut favorite to win it all.  And that’s good for the sport.