Volleyball Viruses

Image from the live-streamed game against Newark Charter on October 22.

Sports are looking very different this year, especially for Padua’s varsity volleyball team. From group huddles to high-fives, adjustments to the rules must be made in order to keep all players safe regarding COVID-19.

The original thought for this fall season was that there was not going to be one. Fortunately, coaches were able to quickly come up with a plan for players to be able to try out and have a 2020 volleyball season.

Tryouts were definitely different this year. Sessions were cut short because of time issues, so the coaches watching did not get to everything they had hoped for

“I would have liked to have seen a little bit more, but I think that we were able, even in the time we had, to make the best decisions for the program,” said the head coach, Rainbow Giaquinto.

The girls knew going into the season that if we didn’t follow these rules, the repercussions were pretty serious

— Giaquinto

Padua’s first varsity game was an away game against Newark Charter, on October 22. Padua won the game 25-22 in four sets. Coaches and players were not sure how games would play out, but the game showed everyone how this season would go.

There were many changes to the rules. The rules of the volleyball game itself have remained unchanged, but most of the customs have been altered. For example, teams were not allowed to switch courts, no highfives, no shaking hands at the end, and they must wear masks at all times.

“We would always jump and hug each other, but now we would try to touch elbows, but that did not work,” said Colleen McClintock, player number 1. “So it is very different, but we still go in, we just stay distant.”

Warm-ups look different as well. To stay distant, players have to push back from the net to come in less contact with the other team. Each team also has a certain ball cart that the other team doesn’t use until it is cleaned.

A big part of this game is communication and talking on the court. Having masks on can affect how well understood players can be on the court. Number 9, Mary Mancini, said “If you don’t enunciate what you are saying, words can get jumbled together…”

Mandi Quinn(left) and Mackenzie Sobczyk(right) in a volleyball game with masks on. (Bud Keegan)

Wearing a mask everyday is not anyone’s ideal work day, but wearing them while playing a sport is even harder. Having new teammates, it can be hard getting to know everyone with their face covered.

Freshman player, Aanya Yatavelli says, “During practices, it has been pretty hard to connect with people when you can’t see their facial expressions.”

The new rules of the game don’t just affect the players, but the parents too. Volleyball games at Padua are normally a very popular social event. This year, most highschool gyms have been closed for spectators. However, the Padua Administration came up with the solution to live stream each game on youtube.

“Just to have a no spectators policy is probably the best for everyone,” Giaquinto said, “Having the ability to livestream the games at least gives the parents the ability to see their daughters play.”

Each highschool gym in the Diocese of Wilmington has the same rules for the most part, there are a couple gyms who allow one or two spectators for each player. However, each gym is required to wear masks, sanitize, and social distance themselves.

“The girls knew going into the season that if we didn’t follow these rules, the repercussions were pretty serious,” says Giaquinto “More importantly, if any of us got sick it would shut down the season completely. All the girls have done very well following all the code rules.”