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The Game Change: Volleyball ft. New Albany

A weekly segment investigating the rule changes in high school sports during the Coronavirus. This week we look at volleyball featuring the New Albany Bulldogs.

Posted: Sep 1, 2020 10:30 PM
Updated: Sep 2, 2020 9:13 AM

NEW ALBANY, Miss. (WTVA) -- High school sports are back, but they aren't quite the same because of the ongoing pandemic. Every Tuesday night, we are going to explore the ways sports have changed and how these changes have affected the game. 

We start on the volleyball court with the New Albany Bulldogs. Ashley Connolly is the head coach of the Bulldogs. She said this year has been a challenge. They didn't have spring practice or a traditional tryout period.

With new coronavirus policies in place, teams like the bulldogs are having to adjust on the fly. The Mississippi High School Activities Association is trying to limit the amount of player to player and coach to coach contact. The biggest change for coaches: no more coin flip. The visiting team automatically gets the first serve.

"We are a very strong serving team," Connolly said. "Most coaches do like to start off with their strongest server first and that's how we usually make the lineup based off of that."

Connolly said the Bulldogs have ten home games, forcing her to hyper-focus on "serve-receive," which is slightly different than years past. Another aspect of distancing players: no high-fives. No pre and post-game handshakes. No celebrations. Usually, after a point is scored, the team celebrates with a huddle. 

"Coming from me as a coach, I'm always like, y'all need to cheer more," Connolly said. "I think we'll still be able to do it without coming in the middle but you know just like coming up with a different way to celebrate."

Normally, throughout the course of the volleyball season, teams will participate in massive jamboree style tournaments. This year, tournaments can still occur, but on a much smaller scale. New Albany generally goes down to Jackson for a preseason tournament, where they play strong competition to prepare them for the season, but skipped it this year because of the coronavirus.

"It does make a difference not being able to possibly to go to those and help us get ready for the bigger schools in the playoffs," Connolly said.

Regardless of the changes, the Bulldogs, like many other volleyball teams across the state are trying to make the most of it.

"They've caught on and they're backing us 110-percent," Connolly said. "I back them 110-percent and we're just going on."

Next week on the Game Change: these students never score touchdowns, but they make them ohhh so much sweeter. That's right, we're talking to the band.

For a full list of changes, click here

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 292811

Reported Deaths: 6613
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19515228
Hinds18611385
Harrison16431275
Rankin12543261
Jackson12419216
Lee9641160
Madison9378194
Jones7857145
Forrest7094136
Lauderdale6760225
Lowndes5998137
Lamar581180
Lafayette5698113
Washington5135128
Bolivar4580120
Oktibbeha438691
Panola424992
Warren4101113
Pearl River4083128
Pontotoc406668
Marshall398392
Monroe3977126
Union392173
Neshoba3758166
Lincoln3447100
Hancock338673
Leflore3349118
Sunflower316685
Tate299874
Pike298293
Scott291867
Alcorn289660
Itawamba288571
Yazoo283262
Tippah275465
Copiah273957
Coahoma272666
Simpson270778
Prentiss267658
Leake251370
Wayne250540
Marion249878
Covington247178
Grenada244676
Adams232877
George229845
Newton223151
Winston220274
Tishomingo211465
Jasper211244
Attala205969
Chickasaw200550
Holmes181470
Clay177848
Stone171129
Tallahatchie169239
Clarke168271
Calhoun155527
Smith151531
Yalobusha142236
Greene126533
Walthall123340
Noxubee122629
Perry120934
Montgomery120537
Lawrence119021
Carroll117223
Amite110732
Webster109229
Jefferson Davis99931
Tunica98023
Claiborne97329
Benton92524
Humphreys91326
Kemper89422
Quitman76614
Franklin75419
Choctaw69416
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61027
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 490220

Reported Deaths: 9744
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson704661342
Mobile35810721
Madison32203443
Tuscaloosa23961409
Montgomery22417489
Shelby21773211
Baldwin19635272
Lee14883147
Morgan13571248
Etowah13118312
Calhoun13090283
Marshall11212203
Houston10036257
Limestone9321133
Elmore9313179
Cullman8864177
St. Clair8771220
Lauderdale8570210
DeKalb8419173
Talladega7450162
Walker6492249
Jackson6466102
Autauga617285
Blount6072125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5229100
Dale4614106
Russell401431
Franklin397675
Covington3948105
Chilton383196
Escambia376670
Tallapoosa3559139
Clarke342749
Dallas3396140
Chambers3393103
Pike292771
Lawrence281284
Marion280793
Winston245665
Bibb243759
Marengo238554
Geneva238468
Pickens223554
Barbour209550
Hale208464
Fayette199356
Butler195165
Henry182341
Cherokee176338
Monroe165638
Randolph162740
Washington156233
Crenshaw143353
Clay143254
Macon140543
Cleburne136539
Lamar131632
Lowndes130148
Wilcox120825
Bullock116534
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98231
Coosa86823
Greene86732
Choctaw54723
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