Volleyball tourney a success

Richfield High School’s Summer Barney slams a spike from the outside for an RHS point at the Rukus Volleyball Tournament held at the Sevier Valley Center, July 13.

The annual Richfield Rukus volleyball tournament drew 80 teams – 32 varsity teams and 48 junior varsity and eighth grade teams, July 13-16. Richfield High School’s and Snow College’s volleyball programs partnered to host the four-day fundraiser tourney this year. Games were spread out between the Sevier Valley Center, Richfield High School and Red Hills Middle School.

The multi-level tournament began in 2017, with 12 teams competing. In 2018, the tourney drew 30 teams and then 64 teams in 2019. The partnership between RHS’s and Snow College’s programs resulted in a three-venue tourney accommodating 80 teams. After the Monday through Thursday tournament play, Snow College’s program hosted a skills camp at the SVC, in which approximately 40 girls participated, Friday. 

“Once we established it as an annual tournament, I approached Coach Reynolds at Snow College and asked if he would like to partner with RHS and use it as a fundraiser for his program as well as ours,” said Cassy Moon, head coach at RHS. “Coach (Jeff) Reynolds was excited to partner with us. He was able to secure the SVC, as he is part of Snow College, and I was able to secure the use of RHS and RHMS, which meant we were able to accommodate more teams. 

“With the use of the SVC and our facilities, and their close location to each other, our tournament has the ability to grow into a premier summer camp for volleyball teams wanting to get an experience on a state-like venue, while also adding much needed experience for younger teams. We are already making plans to move forward next year in our continued partnership.”

Moon said this was a different type of tournament where teams participated in pool play and were not placed in tiered pools until the final day of the tournament. Teams were seeded with a random number to start the tournament and then took the seed of the teams they played. Teams played best two of three matches. A twist on the sets came in the tiebreaker game where both teams started at eight points and finished at the first to 15 points, which created a situational type game where teams have to focus on the end of a match, especially a quick third set. Coaches really liked the format of our tournament and the ability to move from a bottom to a top seed throughout the pool play to get a final seed into the tournament, according to Moon. 

“Our number one worry for this tournament was the amount of teams and communities that could be affected by the pandemic. We did not want to increase spread from community to community, especially Sevier County,” Moon said. “We contacted Local Channel 10 and asked if they could provide streaming video so parents and other spectators could stay home and still watch. 

“We also made a precaution plan to take steps to limit exposure to COVID-19. The health department liked the plan our district and Snow College presented for our facilities. These precautions included masks, hand sanitizer stations, as well as sanitizing the gyms, volleyballs and seating. We only allowed four teams in a gym at a time at RHS and RHMS and a limited number of spectators, which mostly consisted of parents who had driven the teams to the event.”

Other precautions were used as well, such as teams not switching sides of the court after each game, social distancing in the gyms, masks, contact tracing and symptom checking. 

“Our amazing facilities also have great HVAC systems to effectively move old air out of the building and bring in new air in a short amount of time,” Moon said. “I was very impressed with the parents and players. They were great to work with as we tried to eliminate any outbreak of COVID-19 at our event. Especially great were the parents of our players who selflessly volunteered to sanitize, monitor, direct traffic and check for symptoms at the door. The parents took our event very seriously as they didn’t want to spread disease and jeopardize our upcoming season. 

“Also very important to our success was Snow College’s coaching staff who ran the SVC and their players who officiated almost every match for four days,” Moon said. “We also provided RHS graduates to help officiate. Our RHS coaches were very busy for four days, but we are happy with the turnout and can’t wait for next year, hopefully in a COVID-free setting.”

The tournament drew teams from Richfield, South Sevier, North Sevier, Valley, Grand, Green River, North Sanpete, Kanab, Springville, Beaver, Piute, North Summit, Cedar City, Uintah, 435 Club, Rich, Juab, Manti, Carbon, The Bengals, Gunnison, Millard, Panguitch, Canyon View, Box Elder, Wayne, Monticello, Bryce Valley and San Juan. In addition, Cedaredge High School from Colorado, as well as three Idaho high teams – Madison, Skyline and Sugar-Salem. Most of the schools brought multiple teams at varying levels to compete. For example, Richfield had five teams, while South Sevier and North Sevier each had three teams competing in the tourney.

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