HURON — The volleyball world, South Dakota version, will be focused on three cities this weekend, as the 2020 State Volleyball Tournaments commence in Watertown, Brookings, and Huron.
This year marks the first time since 2016 that the tournaments are being held in separate cities, a format to which the South Dakota High School Activities Association will return next season.
Huron School District Activities Director Terry Rotert, who oversees Huron Arena, the site of this year’s Class “B” State Volleyball Tournament, and his staff have been working to prepare for this year’s tournament, which begins on Thursday.
Guidelines are in place at all state tournaments by the SDHSAA, requiring masks to be worn by all in attendance at the state tournaments, with the exception of those players on the court during a match.
Rotert said that there are no limits in place for the number of people who may attend.
“We’re allowing spectators and fans of teams playing to have the bleacher area so they can effectively social distance,” Rotert said. “The north balcony seats have been reserved for teams that are not playing, so they can maintain distance from the general public.”
Rotert said that hand sanitizer stations are set up near both ticket windows on the floor level, near the offices on the second level corridor, by the main floor concession stand and near the locker rooms. Additional hand sanitizer areas are located at both ends of the scorers' table and near the water coolers on each bench.
When a match is over, the Arena crews will descend on the vacated locker area, to sanitize and disinfect before the teams for the next session arrive. “As there may be times where we are limited to an hour between sessions,” Rotert noted, “we will continually clean and sanitize the common touch areas to the best of our abilities, in the time that we have.”
Huron has been on the rotation recently, for Class “B” girls’ basketball and volleyball tournaments, due to its past success hosting such events and its central location to most of the teams in the eastern part of the state.
With the unknowns brought on by this year’s pandemic, Rotert is unsure over what the turnout for this year’s tournament may be.
“In the past, volleyball crowds have been about half of what we see for the Class B Girls’ basketball tournament,” Rotert said. “In a pandemic, it’s hard to guess what kind of crowds we might have, although with most of the teams coming from within two hours of Huron, we may have nice crowds.”
Regardless of the number of fans who attend, Rotert said that he believes with the 5,000+ capacity of Huron Arena, the facility has the seating area to accommodate larger crowds, while still giving space to social distance.
“We feel we can give the teams a great experience and keep everyone safe,” he added.