Volleyball season starts amid COVID-19 uncertainty


Photo by Arisha Hirji

Junior Emory Coscia passes the ball back to her teammate during practice Sept. 16. After school practice is from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

After an altered start to the usual athletics schedule, volleyball will play its first district game Sept. 29 in the Lewisville High School arena at 6:30 p.m.

UIL allowed volleyball practices to start on June 8 after it was deemed safe for a small number of athletes to practice together. However, because of the pandemic, changes have been made to the season, including the varsity team having half as many matches as last year. Even though it is limited, head coach Karen Keeney is grateful to be able to have a season this year.

“[COVID-19] scared me more for the long term than it did for the short term,” Keeney said. “I think there’s a triumph in the fact that we’re able to have a season. My biggest fear was that my seniors were going to have to forgo their season and I didn’t want that to happen. They work too hard to have their senior season be nothing.”

The team won its first game of the season in three sets on Sept. 15 against McKinney High School, making their current record 1-0. Teams will not be switching benches after each set like normal, there will be no meeting between the teams for a coin flip and the visiting team automatically gets the first serve. Junior setter and right-side hitter Harmony Sample said she is happy to be able to continue playing in games.

 “[This situation has] taught me about being grateful for what you have,” Sample said. “Being able to play volleyball [in our current situation] is such a privilege. Having both my club season and high school volleyball games canceled has taught me to be grateful to play the game of volleyball and not take it for granted when I step on the court.”

The coaches are keeping the teams separated during practice to prevent contact between players. Neck gaiter masks will be worn which will make it easy for the players to take the mask on and off as they enter and exit the court. Senior outside hitter Holly Moore said it’s important to help underclassmen in this confusing time.

 “I feel more pressure to help the freshman and make sure they know what’s going on, and to also be a leader for the rest of the kids,” Moore said. “I think we have a really good senior class this year, which is cool. I feel like this year the seniors are more encouraging and able to hype people up more.” 

A couple of volleyball programs in the district have had practices shut down temporarily due to the virus, but Hebron has continued since the summer practices. This gives the possible advantage of more conditioning and practice time than other schools in the district. Since Hebron lost in the first round of playoffs last year, Sample is hoping for the team to redeem themselves after having extra time to practice before the season started this year.

“I am happy that we had a delay because I feel like we needed this extra practice time because we lost in the playoffs last year,” Sample said. “But I am also ready to go back to playing and competing in games.”

Saturdays will be reserved for make-up games if any are canceled due to COVID-19. Keeney said winning games will be more significant for the team this year.

“At the beginning of the season, we’re all in tournaments and it’s just one more game,” Keeney said. “That’s not the way it is now. That next game could be your last game. At any time, any of us could get shut down completely. I think winning will be intensified because of that.”