Volleyball team manages a productive offseason despite restrictions due to COVID-19
Fri, 08/14/2020 - 2:04pm caleb
Vikings begin practice sessions for 2020 season with a young group that has a significant amount of varsity experience
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The 2020 Grayling High School varsity volleyball team has a young group – two seniors, nine juniors, one sophomore – but the squad has a significant amount of previous varsity experience, and the program had a productive offseason despite some limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Just excited to be inside playing,” Coach Tim Zigila said.
Coach Zigila said players did some conditioning work in June and played outside on their own at the sand courts at Grayling High School early in the offseason.
“The girls took it upon themselves to get some play in,” Coach Zigila said.
In July, the program conducted open gym sessions five days a week. The squad also participated in weight room work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the summer.
On Friday, August 14, during the first day of normal practice following two days of tryouts, Coach Zigila said the offseason work has “paid off.”
“The girls, they embraced getting in the gym three days a week and working out,” Coach Zigila said.
The team also interacted online in the spring to get ready for the offseason.
“When school stopped in March we did Zoom workouts with the girls. That kind of led into when we were able to participate in June,” Coach Zigila said.
Coach Zigila said 36 girls attended tryouts.
“I had 17 try out for varsity; I kept 12. JV is going to have nine and we have nine freshmen. We had two real solid days of tryouts,” Coach Zigila said.
Coach Zigila said the team will miss the bonding and the instruction and the game action of its annual All-America camp, an event the players were not able to attend this year due to the pandemic.
“It’s a hard three or four days. You’re on the go, go, go, but the girls love it. It’s a great bonding experience,” Coach Zigila said regarding the camp.
Coach Zigila said he expects the squad’s “experience and athleticism” to be strengths this year.
“I’ve got six coming back with varsity experience,” Coach Zigila said.
Coach Zigila said the team needs to improve its passing and serve receive to have success this year.
“We’ve got good passers but we’ve got to pass better. We’ve got to be strong on our serve game. I think we’ll be able to accomplish those two things,” Coach Zigila said.
“I think for us our primary goal, our team goal, is just to play as a team, support each other. We want to play well in the conference and also play well in our out of conference tournaments,” Coach Zigila said.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association has classified volleyball as a “moderate-risk” sport with regard to the spread of COVID-19.
The MHSAA has instituted a “regular season tournament competition limit” of four teams per site and a ban on scrimmages (involving players from different schools) for the 2020 fall season due to coronavirus concerns.
The MHSAA expects to have spectator limits if the season is able to proceed.
“Spectators will be limited. The number of spectators and individuals allowed for indoor events will be based on future guidance from the governor’s office, and will be posted prior to the first dates of competition,” according to the MHSAA.
Currently, competition is not allowed for sports considered “higher-risk” and “moderate-risk.” The MHSAA has listed August 20 as its target date for announcing any delays or cancellations of seasons for the fall of 2020 campaign.
Some of the MHSAA’s guidelines specific to volleyball include: “No pre-game and post-game handshakes/high-fives/fist bumps. Nets, standards, and officials stands should be cleaned and sanitized after set up and before contest. Each team is responsible for its own hand sanitizer. Modify team bench areas to allow for physical distancing. Recommend face coverings be worn during the captains meeting. Only athletes will touch the balls; ball should be set on the floor during a timeout. Ball shagging should be done by athletes. A sanitized back up ball should be available at the score table. Host schools should have a three-ball rotation. Players need to use hand sanitizer before entering and when exiting the court during substitutions or with libero; no hand touching allowed during substitutions.”
Coach Zigila said he wants his players to make the most out of their opportunities to practice and play.
“I just want to see them bring it every day and be competitive. We talked about how every practice needs to be competitive because we don’t know the length of our season, so we need to bring it every day and enjoy the opportunity,” Coach Zigila said.
Currently, in Region 6 and Region 8 of Michigan, which are in Phase 5 of the state’s MI Safe Start Plan, volleyball teams are allowed to practice inside. Grayling is in Region 6 along with most of northern Michigan, and Region 8 is the Upper Peninsula. In the other regions of the state, which are in Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan, teams are not allowed to practice inside.
“We’re happy to be indoors because half the state isn’t,” Coach Zigila said.
The varsity volleyball squad is scheduled to compete in tournaments at Alma, Frankfort, and Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart to open its 2020 season.