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Volleyball tournament makes Lions Field home

Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 5:19 PM EDT
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NORTH AUGUSTA, SC . (WRDW/WAGT) - Every week it seems there’s some progress of getting sports back at every level. Outside of the MLB, every major sport has a plan to return or has been able to return in some capacity, and most high school leagues have some kind of return to action plan. Grassroot and community sports are still trying to make a full comeback, though we’re seeing progress there. So much so, North Augusta played host to a two day volleyball tournament over the weekend.

“This is actually the first tournament that we’ve had like this of this size and level of talent in maybe the last 20 years,” said North Augusta’s Shane Thompson.

Pafukas volleyball is a grass volleyball tournament that usually takes place in Columbia. Founded in 2002, the tournament had met at the same field until this year, when organizer Sue Dillon ran into a major problem.

“I’ve been doing Pafukas for 17 years and we’ve used the same field out in West Columbia. I went to look at it this year and they made it into a parking lot, so I had to make a decision on what to do,” said Dillon.

Savannah Gonzalez and the North Augusta Department of Parks and Recreation made it possible to happen here. Dillon added it was the best turnout she’d ever had for the tournament, attracting players from Columbia, Greenville, Charlotte, Atlanta, and even locally.

The competition come spanned across all backgrounds, ages, and skill levels, with the best team having a shot at a grand money prize.

“You have different levels of play here, so you’ve got some folks that are in high school, and they come out and really get their feet wet in the whole tournament deal. And then you’ve got post college players, you’ve got older folks like myself who come out here for good exercise and plan to lose either way,” Thompson added.

Restrictions are still in phase 1 for SCHSL volleyball players, which doesn’t allow the use of balls and strict sanitary guidelines for indoor facilities. It’s a rare chance to face live action for Richland County players like Kalen Lance, Emma Grace Rhyne and Dani Mejia who were taking part in the tournament, not to mention a welcomed relief from COVID-19′s stress.

“It’s been a long three months with corona so it’s good to get outside and play around with your friends,” said Lance.

With their old field turned into a parking lot, Pafukas will be searching for a long term home. the participants were all impressed by the conditions that Lions Field offered and may make this a new host site for future meets.

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