The Blue Water Volleygrass Tournament is going to be celebrating its big 25th birthday in style this weekend.
The annual grass-fed volleyball tournament — now in its third year at Port Huron Northern after 22 years in Marysville — will have colossal turnout as 211 teams will be looking to take down titles.
The competition is steep in divisions ranging from the girls 14-and-under to the men’s 40-and-over. Watching the matches on championship Sunday — or Friday for the co-ed divisions — you would think there’s more at stake than just a T-shirt.
Then again, it’s that kind of pride that’s made this tournament an area staple for the last quarter century.
“It’s just great volleyball and camaraderie with people coming back to see their friends and play,” tournament chairman Tim Langolf said. “And it just runs so well over the years and it’s one of the best tournaments on this side of the country.”
The co-ed tournament will begin and end on Friday, starting at 5 p.m. with the men’s, women’s and girls tournaments starting with pool play at 9 a.m. Saturday followed with Sunday’s double elimination bracket.
In between all of the matches, it’s popular to sit in and watch other matches go down while catching up with friends. That catching up time with friends — old and new — is one reason Chris Voss is coming back for his 24th straight Volleygrass Tournament.
“I really fell in love with the sport in my early 20s,” Voss, now 45, said. “I played in my first Volleygrass and it’s such a great event and a high level of competition, but everyone out there realizes we are out there to have fun, too.”
The weekend tournament is also a go-to way to build team chemistry within volleyball teams just weeks before the season gets going. Rising Northern senior Brooke Bowerman will be one of the many players paired up with teammates this weekend, looking forward to spending time with the Volleygrass team — dubbed “Blockbusters” — before representing the Huskies all fall.
“It is really good bonding time to be with them all day for two days straight,” Bowerman said. “I’m glad I chose teammates to play with … and people come to win, and that’s the best part of it. People don’t mess around.”
With the competition and camaraderie, there’s no wondering why Volleygrass has grown to become the 25-year-old tournament it has.
“It’s exciting it’s lasted this long,” Langolf said. “I like to think we haven’t missed a beat since we’ve moved to Northern.”