After waiting and waiting for word to arrive that there will be a high school volleyball season, the timing of the announcement on Monday still caught some off-guard.
“That came out of nowhere,” Lutcher volleyball coach Rickey LeBlanc said. “I wasn’t expecting that. I was still under the assumption that we wouldn’t be able to play until Phase 3.”
But a tweak in the fall sports events guidelines issued by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association will allow volleyball to begin competitive games despite the state remaining in Phase 2 during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The new LHSAA guides state:
“During Phase II, practice and all scrimmages are allowed in the sport of volleyball. Inter-squad scrimmages and volleyball matches can be played in Phase 2 if the following guidelines are followed: no more than a total of 25 students in a gym, essential personnel will still be limited to 10 adults, all matches will be 3/5, all facilities are required to be sanitized prior to use by different groups, and face masks, temperature checks and social distancing are required. Athletes may chose not to wear face masks while playing.”
Under the previous guidelines, the gathering total during Phase 2 was limited to 25. A move to Phase 3 would have been necessary to accommodate players and coaches in a gym.
The new guidelines for Phase 2 allow for a total of 25 players, plus additional personnel such as coaches and game officials totaling 10.
The opportunity to play is welcome, but it also will bring some challenges, according to LeBlanc.
“It will be tough,” LeBlanc said. “We will have to limit the number of players we can carry for each team. Most people are doing jayvee and varsity, which means the jayvee will have to find someplace to go while the varsity plays and then you have to clear the gym and wipe down the chairs and sanitize and then you bring the other group in.”
Even with the gathering limit increased a bit, there gyms will be empty, save for players and essential personnel.
“We wish we had fans, but we are just excited to play,” said senior middle blocker Maddie Beier.
The news of being able to play is especially welcome for another senior, outside hitter Kelsi Lambert.
A member of the Lutcher softball team, she lost her junior season in that sport in the spring.
“It’s hard. From experience, I did it with softball. It’s my senior year this year and I was hoping for it to not get ruined because of corona,” said Lambert.
Lutcher is slated to open its season September 8.
“It’s exciting. We have been waiting for it,” Beier said of the start of the season.
“I am so ready,” beamed Lambert.