School-sanctioned volleyball teams generally begin in middle/junior high school. In some school districts, these may be organized, official teams within the school. For others, the team may be part of an intramural program. With an intramural team, everyone plays for the most part; with more competitive teams, there may be a tryout process and only the stronger, better players are selected.
In high school, there is a bit more competition depending on your region of the country. High school sports in districts are regulated under the state’s sport league for high school. Most high school teams have a tryout process and the best players are offered to play on a freshman, junior varsity or varsity team.
Cost/uniforms: Cost might vary from district to district – there may be no fee or a nominal fee to cover the cost of uniforms, travel to away games and referees. Uniforms are typically provided and include both a home and away jersey as well a practice t-shirt(s). Other items, such as knee pads, shorts and athletic shoes typically are not included and some items, particularly the jerseys, may need to be returned at the end of the season.
Tryout process: Volleyball is a fall sport in both middle and high schools throughout the country. Tryouts are held in late summer (July or August, depending on when students return to school) before classes begin. Middle schools may have an intramural team where all players are accepted onto a team or there may be a junior varsity and varsity team. High school teams may have a freshman-only team, junior varsity and varsity team.
Practices: More competitive teams, be it middle school or high school, will begin having practices almost immediately after the teams are formed. This might be before classes even begin. Practices will also be held 4-5 days a week (especially for high school teams). Once school starts, practices may be held immediately after school is dismissed each day.
Games: The school volleyball regular season runs from August to October/November in most states. Regional and state championship games run late October through November.
Middle school teams play other teams within their district which might culminate in district championship game (with playoff games played along the way).
High school teams play other teams within their district throughout the regular season. The top teams will play other top teams from districts within the same region. Regional champions move on to state playoffs and from there, a state championship. (This is for varsity teams only. There is no national championship playoff system for volleyball although there are online sites that track sports statistics and develop their own ranking of teams throughout the United States, such as MaxPreps).