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: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 539829

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798271529
Mobile41261809
Madison35132506
Tuscaloosa25915455
Shelby25294249
Montgomery24705593
Baldwin21392310
Lee15987172
Calhoun14569319
Morgan14422280
Etowah13918353
Marshall12275225
Houston10641282
Elmore10147206
Limestone10065151
St. Clair9946245
Cullman9761194
Lauderdale9457243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8339176
Walker7260278
Autauga7001108
Jackson6836112
Blount6771139
Colbert6320135
Coffee5578118
Dale4876113
Russell445138
Chilton4369113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394777
Chambers3590123
Dallas3568153
Clarke351461
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302698
Winston275773
Bibb264564
Geneva254078
Marengo249665
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale223978
Butler219069
Fayette212662
Henry189643
Cherokee184645
Randolph182442
Monroe178141
Washington167739
Macon161150
Clay157157
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143236
Lowndes140553
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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