The Big Sky Volleyfest returned to Billings this weekend, featuring 180 teams with 2,000 players.
COVID cancelled the 2020 event.
"We're just super thankful that we were able to run it this year," said Craig Allred, Big Sky Volleyfest tournament director. "People were just really hoping that it was going to happen. Club volleyball is a big deal in a lot of places. We're always super thankful that those teams and the teams that are in here, decided to come out to Montana and and support our event."
The festival has eight classifications for players from under 12 to under 18.
They played on 14 courts at the Expo Center, four at the First Interstate Arena, and four at MSUB's Alterowitz Gym.
"That volleyball festival type of feel, competing at a high level, but we're also gaining new friends," Allred said.
Allred started the Big Sky Volleyfest when he was an assistant coach at Sky View High School and a teacher at Castle Rock middle school.
"Playing in something like this kind of gives them a better feel," he said. "And then when they step in to do that with their high school teams, they have the kind of experience."
Allred teaches and coaches in Utah, but still brings his volleyball passion to Billings,
"My whole family flies in with us and we we spend the whole week kind of putting things together," Allred said. "And in that family, I also include our Billings volleyball family. There's some kids that want to go up and play college but we know that's not the majority of kids and we want every coach and player that leaves thinking that was really, really fun."
Allred says the courts get shipped from Phoenix with the help of a local trucking company.
The festival has also provided other businesses with opportunities, including food and hospitality.
The Volleyfest is an AAU regional and the top teams qualify for the 48th AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships in Orlando, Florida, June 17-29.