At 5:30 pm on June 22, USA Women’s National Indoor assistant coach and three-time Olympic champion Karch Kiraly officially opened the 2011 Volleyball Festival at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz. Roughly 6,000 girls ages 12-18 spread across more than 500 teams were gathered at the Phoenix Convention Center ready to begin the 28th annual festival. In addition, 1,500 coaches and some 1,000 parents were in attendance. Girls traveled to Phoenix for the event from 16 states across the U.S., with teams also hailing from Puerto Rico and Canada.
The opening ceremonies, colored with this year’s theme “Pirate Queens of the Desert,” offered a chance for teams to come out and show their pride before games began the next day. It was the festival’s second year taking place in Phoenix, and the convention had a staff of over 50 sports medicine specialists on hand to help girls stay healthy through the extreme heat outside the venue and to assist with any injuries or medical emergencies.
With a 107-court facility, the festival boasts 14 guaranteed matches per team over the span of the five-day event, where games ran from June 23 – 27. The 18s finals were televised nationally on a tape delay after the festival on Prime Ticket, Fox Sports Arizona, and Fox Sports West.
As a special event on June 26, the Volleyball Festival asked teams and spectators to wear red to support the “Win With Heart” campaign on behalf of Nfinity, the festival’s title sponsor and manufacturer of women’s volleyball apparel. The event raised awareness for heart disease. Other sponsors of the festival were Spalding, SnapSports, and Papa John’s Pizza.
The festival, which was started in 1983 and is run and managed by Festival Sports, has been recognized by the Volleyball Hall of Fame and is noted for allowing equal amounts of playing time for teams at all ability levels at the draw. In addition to the Volleyball Festival, Festival Sports runs parent education programs and offers scholarships. What started out as an event with less than 200 teams nearly 30 years ago has grown exponentially over the past decades.
Tentative dates for the 2012 Volleyball Festival are June 26-30.
Final Results for Each Age Division
12s (45 teams) Maunalani 3rdDegree12
13s (52 teams) Wave 13Abra
14s (100 teams) Excel NW 14 Black
15s (96 teams) SMBC 15 Brad
16s (119 teams) TVC Mark
17s (57 teams) Legacy 17-1
18s (64 teams) Kane County 18 Gold
Originally published in September/October 2011