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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: Apr 29, 2021 2:19 PM

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: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
Tishomingo336289
Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
St. Clair15442305
Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136537
Sumter124536
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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Today, as we head out the door, temperatures will be in the low 60s. Going into the afternoon we will see temperatures hitting the mid-80s, definitely a warmer day than the previous few. Some passing clouds can be expected but no rain to start our work week.
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