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