Attacking the net: Austin boys volleyball team will compete this spring

Published 9:01 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2018

What do a football player, a soccer player and a cyclist all have in common? They’ve all developed a passion for volleyball with the Pack Attack team.

After six years as a traveling boys volleyball team, the Pack Attack is hoping compete as a club high school team this spring. The sport has grown in Minnesota over the past few years and there will be a vote in February to see if boys volleyball will become a regular spring high school sport, with a state tournament.

Simon Hirst, from left, Oliver Andersen and Lucas Evenson have all been long-term members of the Pack Attack volleyball team. Eric Johnson/

Last year there were 22 high school boys teams in Minnesota with 400 total players and the state is hoping to have 40 teams this spring.

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“The ultimate goal is to try to have boys volleyball in high schools throughout Minnesota,” Pack Attack head coach Aleta Myers said. “We have a good core group and a lot of the kids who started with the program are still here. A few have joined over the years.”

Austin junior Oliver Andersen, who plays football and competes in track and field, junior Lucas Evenson, who plays soccer and competes in track and field and senior Simon Hirst, who played summer soccer and competed on the Austin cycling team this year, have all been playing with the Pack Attack for at least four years.

In its first two seasons, the Pack Attack struggled to compete with older girls teams and they would often have serve receives end up bouncing off the wall. The team has grown more accustomed to volleyball over the years and they have now begun to embrace it.

Evenson played in the Minnesota Class A State Boys Soccer Tournament this past fall with the third place finishing Packers. While playing in the state soccer tournament is exciting, winning a volleyball tournament in Ohana, Iowa last year was also a highlight for Evenson.

Last year’s Pack Attack are photographed together after a tournament. Photo provided

“I love the fast-paced game. You can go from attacking to defense quickly. You can be diving down one second and then the next second, you’re jumping and trying to block a hit,” Evenson said. “You’re always moving. You always have to be ready. In soccer, you can always analyze what’s going on, but you’re not in the moment and fighting for the ball then and there. In volleyball it can always deflect off somebody and you have to be ready to react. It’s such an intense game.”

If the Pack Attack does compete in the spring as a club team, it may limit players’ opportunities to play in other spring sports, such as track and field or baseball. She said that athletes will be welcome to play multiple sports in the spring, but Myers is hoping the sport will draw students who aren’t active in any other sports.

“We are recruiting for players because we want to have a JV and a varsity team,” Myers said. “We’re trying to open it to kids who haven’t played before or if they aren’t in spring sports.”

Andersen said if he has to choose between track and field and volleyball, he may have to go with the Pack Attack.

“I hope I can do both,” Andersen said. “I’ve always wanted to play volleyball, so I would really like the opportunity of us getting us to play it as a high school sport. I love the competitiveness of it and how quick the game is. Things go really fast.”

Hirst said he enjoys the opportunity he gets to compete on the volleyball court.

“There’s teams all over. We even played against teams from Canada. That was interesting,” he said. “Everyone works together and everyone plays. Everyone gets hits on the ball. The teams are a little bit smaller and everyone’s touching it, unlike some other sports where you don’t get many touches on the ball.”

The Pack Attack will likely play in five-set matches this season. The season will begin on April 8 and go until late May. Most of the matches will take place in the Twin Cities, but the Pack Attack is hoping to host at least one match in Austin.