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Aurora Conference volleyball tournament falls apart amidst pandemic

Published: Nov. 2, 2020 at 7:21 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -

The Aurora Conference volleyball tournament, originally scheduled for November 5-7 in Valdez, may not see any competition whatsoever after numerous schools have dropped out at various stages in the season.

In traditional seasons, the Aurora Conference is comprised of Monroe Catholic, Hutchison, Eielson, Valdez, Delta and Galena. Delta and Galena never got a volleyball season off the ground, while the Eielson program entered quarantine a few weeks ago and elected to discontinue the rest of the season, leaving Monroe, Hutch and Valdez as the lone schools that would have competed in the tournament. After assessing the situation, Monroe decided not to travel to Valdez this weekend to compete.

“It just didn’t seem to be in the best interest of the safety of our student-athletes and the goal of staying in-person, in regards to school," said Monroe Athletic Director Frank Ostanik. “It wasn’t a decision we took lightly, it was one that we discussed and thought about for quite some time.”

Monroe is a private school that operates outside of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. Unlike schools within FNSBSD, Monroe is hosting in-person classes for their students.

With only Hutch and Valdez in play, the Hawks still plan to travel to Valdez this weekend to compete against the Buccaneers. According to Hutch head coach David Halbrooks, they are still awaiting word from the school district to approve travel to Valdez as of publishing.

Monroe scheduled a pair of games in Fairbanks this week with the Lathrop Malemutes to give their players a proper send-off to the season.

“We felt as a school that it was important to give that opportunity to our volleyball team, [as] we did the same thing with our football team," Ostanik added. "Even if it is not a state tournament, even if it is not a regional tournament, being able to walk out on the court or on the field one last time with your teammates, with your coaches, knowing that it is the last time, I think is of great value and importance for our student-athletes.”

The Mid-Alaska Conference, featuring West Valley, Lathrop and North Pole, is scheduled to host their conference volleyball tournament November 13-14 at Lathrop High School.

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