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H.S. volleyball’s new look this fall

As the sport heads outdoors this fall, the MMU girls volleyball team prepares for a new season
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 8:34 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The first week of fall sports practices continue at high schools across the state, with athletes getting used to new requirements, such as mask wearing or social distancing. One of the sports dealing with the most significant change is volleyball.

This is what high school volleyball looks like in the state of Vermont this fall. Volleyball, the lone fall sport typically played indoors, has been moved outside. Temporary grass fields and outdoor nets like these have been set up at Mount Mansfield Union High School and throughout the state.

While teams will be allowed to hold practices on their traditional indoor courts, all games that will be played this fall will be outside, which means teams are heading out early and often to get a feel for the adjustments that will need to be made to compete this season...and there

“I’ve been playing for eight years and my senior year comes around and I’m suddenly playing outdoors.”, says MMU senior Syrah Wright. “It’s a whole different aspect, the sun makes it really difficult to see where the ball is, especially if it’s flying right over it. The grass isn’t too nice on the knees, especially for defensive players. We’re diving all over the place and we can’t really have the pads that we used to have indoors, so we’re falling against pretty hard grass and ground and that doesn’t feel too great.”

“Definitely the grass, because a lot of the volleyball is diving and jumping and those things are harder on the grass.”, adds MMU senior Becca Syverson. “And also wearing a mask. Volleyball isn’t the most running, but just doing a lot of cardio in the mask in general makes it a little bit harder to breathe. But we’re definitely adjusting.”

The other big change for volleyball this fall is that there will be no state champions. The VPA will not be holding a championship tournament this season for boys or girls volleyball. That was disappointing news for the Mount Mansfield girls.

In each of the four seasons volleyball has been an official varsity sport in Vermont, Essex and CVU have played in the final. Mount Mansfield has lost in the semifinals each of those seasons, but the Cougars were hoping that this would be the year they break through and reach their first state final.

“I think, really for all of us, it was hard to hear.”, says Wright. “I think this year we were really striving to win and just to have that kind of cut off from us was really hard. At first I was really down about it, but I think, especially compared to a lot of places, they don’t even have a season at all, so just to have this, I think, really thankful.”

That title quest will now have to wait for another year, and the players on this year’s Cougars squad say they are instead going to focus on the opportunity they do have to be together as a team and compete.

“We were really hoping to make it to states this year, but we’re just so glad to be out here.”, says Syverson. “In general, we were all just so worried that we wouldn’t have a season. Being able to be out here together with our whole team and adjusting to this all together has been a super fun way to start the season, even though it’s so different.”

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