Take a Dig into Last Year’s Girls Volleyball Devastation

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Ciara Cunningham was a 6th grader on last year’s state qualifying team.

The girls Liberty volleyball team had to cut their season short last year. They had defeated everyone in sectionals and were ready to move onto state. This was the first time in seven years that Coach Kelly Keeven would be taking her team to state.

One day before they were to leave for the state tournament, players and coaches were notified by email that the state tournament had been cancelled. Understandably, the team was devastated. Now, months later, here’s a look back on what happened and what one player and Coach Keeven think will happen in the upcoming season.

From Coach Keeven:

Q: Describe an opportunity your team missed and how it affected everyone.

A: “Last year, COVID ended our season the night before we were leaving for the State Tournament. We had worked so hard to get there!! That was probably the most devastating moment I think I’ve ever has in my 16 years of coaching volleyball.”

Q: How much of a difference will (possibly) no crowd make on your performance as a coach?

A: “I think in the regular season, we will still play just as hard against good competition regardless if we have fans or not. When you feel the competition on the other side of the net, you rise to the occasion, regardless of the fans.”

Q: Because of the pandemic, what will you miss most about the upcoming sports season?

A: “This year, there will not be a State Tournament. That’s always our ultimate goal of the season to get there.”

Q: Did your team alter this season’s tryout process due to the pandemic? If so, how?

A: “We still plan to have a tryout for the team. It will just be in January, instead of December. We will be hosting 15 open gyms for all the girls interested during November and December as a form of a preseason. Tryouts can officially begin January 11th and our first game is January 25th! That is not enough time to prepare a team for a first game.”

Q: Is your team planning on attending competitions/events despite the pandemic?

A: “Yes! We have 15 games on our schedule already. We plan to keep our season as normal as we possibly can!”

From 7th grader Ciara Cunningham:

Q: Because of the pandemic, what will you miss most about the upcoming sports season?

A: “Because of the pandemic, I will miss being around my team. I’m unsure if we will be able to huddle/meet in the middle like last year. Same with high fives.”

Q: Describe an opportunity your team missed and how it affected everyone.

A: “My team missed going to State. It broke all of our hearts after we had worked so hard this season. We definitely all bonded differently after this. All we can do this year is work just as hard to get to State again.”

Q: Do you feel a sense of worry about the upcoming season because of the pandemic? If so, why?

A: “I do worry about this upcoming season because not only will the rules and requirements change, but we may have to wear masks. Playing a sport is definitely challenging. We may also not be able to encourage each other the same as before.”

Q: How much of a difference will (possibly) no crowd make on your performance as a player?

A: “Without the crowd, I believe myself and my teammates will still do great! We play for ourselves and our team, not our audience!”