Perhaps no sport this fall will feel the effects of the pandemic more than volleyball.
While most players and coaches welcomed the Minnesota State High School League board of directors' vote to restore the fall season, the differences will be noticeable on the court, for those few who will be able to watch in person.
The most noticeable change will be the absence of fans. On the direction of the Minnesota Department of Health, nonessential persons are not allowed into buildings where students are being taught. No parents. No fans. No noise.
Champlin Park coach John Yunker expects the players will need an adjustment period. "Playing in front of no one? That's something they're going to have to figure out," he said. "It's going to be a bit different."
Jordan coach Taylor Soine said teams will have to find ways to generate energy and momentum. "One of the major challenges will be creating our own energy without fans," she wrote in a preseason preview. "It's going to be a game-changer for both teams."
Because parents still clamor to watch their daughters play, many schools have invested more resources in livestreaming services, allowing viewers to see the match remotely.
On the court, in addition to social distancing practices, volleyball teams will not switch benches between sets, as has been customary. There will be no team introductions before a match. Play will begin immediately after the national anthem. Face coverings and gloves are permissible during play and teams are asked to refrain from huddling between points.
The league did approve a concession to volleyball players at the Oct. 1 board meeting, allowing players the opportunity to try out for club programs in early November. Clubs have traditionally waited until the end of the high school season to hold tryouts per league rules.
But with the season running into early December, the league approved a one-year waiver to that rule.