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Humboldt State's Odelia Ryan makes a diving effort to keep the play alive during the Jacks' match against Chico State at Lumberjack Arena on November 1. | Photo by Thomas Lal

Women’s volleyball team practices during COVID-19 pandemic regardless of no season

The team practices with approval of HSU president and CSU system while adhering to state and local public health policies
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The team practices with approval of HSU president and CSU system while adhering to state and local public health policies

The Humboldt State University’s women’s volleyball team found a way to practice during the pandemic. The team’s practice plans were approved by HSU President Jackson and the California State University system and practices must abide by state and local COVID-19 public health regulations. HSU is one of the few schools in California allowed to do so.

Macy Thomas, a junior at HSU, explained the precautions taken by the team to abide by the COVID-19 safety protocol.

“Of course there were several limitations in place, but throughout the last couple months we’ve been able to increase our practice size, duration and level of contact in a safe manner,” Thomas said.

To hold practices, the team divided into two smaller pods. The team is required to wear masks during practice as well as remain socially distant throughout it.

Lenox Loving, junior at HSU, said it was hard for her to adapt to practicing as two separate pods instead of an entire team. Loving found it especially difficult to get used to playing with the new players, but said it gave them a chance to create a bond on the court.

“In my pod, I was one of three returning players and the rest were new,” Loving said.

Loving said playing with the new team has made her excited for the future season, whenever that is confirmed to happen.

“The past couple of weeks we have been able to practice as a full team and it has been really fun to play with some of the new players from the other pods,” Loving said.

The players were given options for the fall semester and practice was optional for players. A few players chose to stay at home, a decision fully supported by their teammates, and the players that decided to come back and practice, quarantined for two to three weeks once they arrived in the county.

Players had several rounds of continuous testing and a slow introduction back into practices and workouts.

“HSU had us following several different protocols every week in order for it to remain safe such as testing, temperature checks, COVID check-ins everyday,” Loving said.

The team hopes to know within the next couple of weeks if they will play any games this spring or be forced to wait until next fall. Head Coach Kelly Wood expressed eager she is to get back onto the court and compete against other schools again.

“I know my athletes are longing for the long road trip, the bonding experience and many more than anything, the competition versus the other schools in our conference,” Wood said.

Without this year’s season, it hurts the team to think back to last season and how much times have changed. Making memories while competing with the thrill of going to play games, traveling and their normal hustle during the season as a team.

“We understand the circumstances and changes that need to be made, so we choose to remain positive and thankful for our health and ability to practice together right now,” Thomas said.

Wood says the team has been amazing during this very odd and unpredictable time that is happening to everyone, pointing out that the veteran players on the team really stepped up this year.

“They have shown resilience, commitment and they have remained very positive during a very challenging time,” Wood said. “The returns have been helpful and gone above and beyond to help the newcomers enjoy the experience as possible despite the circumstances and my 13 newcomers have been a pleasure to get to know and work with during this time.”

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