Volleyball team gets back to business after last season’s COVID restrictions

Last year COVID was a challenge for most of the world. As far as sports and extracurricular activities go, they had to make many adjustments in order to keep everyone safe while still keeping the season as normal as possible. The volleyball team has recognized how restrictive many of the guidelines were last year and how they had a negative impact on the team while also understanding that they were put in place to keep everyone safe.

Senior setter Rilee Cumpton sees the shift in the atmosphere compared to last year.

“This season we have a lot better energy on the court and off the court,” Rilee said. “We talk to each other a lot more and we are all like best friends which makes the energy on the court a lot more fun.”

Due to COVID, last year’s team was unable to do a lot of the normal activities to prepare for the season which caused a delay in progress and team building.

“It was difficult not having a tournament season at the beginning or pre-season games last year because they really prepare us for the game atmosphere,” Rilee said. “We become more like a team whenever we have that in the beginning. Without that, we had to start the year off without anything, no knowledge about each other or how we were going to play, so it took a lot longer to warm up.” 

The team’s outside hitter, sophomore Alexis Burton, recognizes the struggles last year’s team faced while dealing with all of the COVID guidelines.

“Having to wear masks on the sidelines was hard last year,” Alexis said. “We’d get off the court and immediately have to put them on and we would be out of breath so I’m thankful we don’t have to do that this year.” 

With restrictions easing this season, the team has been able to get back on track and get in the zone.

“Everyone is healthy this year,” coach Stephanie March-Smith said. “Having the girls together for a real pre-season without as many restrictions has allowed us to prepare for district more this season.”

One of the major factors in gameplay is not skill, but fan support, as COVID guidelines limited the number of people who were able to attend the games.

“Having the student section back this year has impacted our play,” senior Faith Clark said. “It’s nice to have the crowd involved, cheering us on.”

Despite COVID getting in the way of how the team works, they are continuously improving and making strides to get better. 

“We’ve had a lot of success on the volleyball court,” Rilee said. “Even if we aren’t winning the game overall, there are a lot of milestones that we hit on the court whether that’s passing, setting, hitting, whatever it is. Every day we are achieving new milestones.”