Picayune volleyball set to face restart challenges

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 11, 2020

Head Coach Courtney Dickens and the Picayune Lady Maroon Tide volleyball team are set to get back to work after finally getting clarity concerning restrictions as they apply to volleyball.

The Mississippi High School Activities Association released a list of guidelines for athletic programs looking to resume practices this summer, but there was some uncertainty regarding how specific restrictions applied to volleyball.

Now the program is set to resume practices on June 16 with the pressure on Dickens to find drills that adhere to the litany of guidelines from the MHSAA.

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The plan is for the team to practice twice a week through the month of June before increasing to three days a week in July.

The technical start date for the program is July 27 and Dickens said from that point on the team would practice daily.

The team hasn’t had tryouts yet and won’t be able to until some restrictions are lifted, so workouts will consist of returning players only.

The athletes will have to be spaced out around the gym and only two athletes are allowed to interact with a single ball.

That means no team drills and no scrimmages because that would involve multiple players coming in contact with the same surface.

“For me I feel like volleyball is one of the more difficult to work with, with all these restrictions because they’re all touching the same ball and play close to each other,” Dickens said.

In years past the team didn’t take part in summer games because the program had only been around for two years, but this summer was supposed to be different with the Lady Maroon Tide planning on taking part in some games against local schools.

However, inter-school competition is prohibited at the moment by the MHSAA, so Dickens’ athletes are going to miss out on those game-like experiences.

Now that the program is established, Dickens feels comfortable with not spending entire practices on fundamental aspects of the game, which in turn means more advanced strategies and drills are in the cards for the team this summer.

“We should be getting to the point where I mention it and go through it, but it should be a quicker process. It’s usually a daily thing where we start out with some type of fundamentals in practice,” Dickens said.

Dickens’ program is still in its formative stages with the team heading into just its third season, but the progress made over the first two years was obvious in both win totals and performance on the court.

Now the hope is to continue that forward progress in a safe manner as the team looks to get back on the floor.

Dickens said that as worried as she is about her team’s improvement, she understands the situation and that they’re not the only team dealing with hardships.

“It gets stressful for me because I’m competitive and want to win, but I have to think about the fact that this isn’t only affecting our team. It’s affecting everybody,” Dickens said.