Virus Concerns Also Leave WVU Volleyball With Questions
Like most everyone involved with college athletics, West Virginia’s volleyball coach Reed Sunahara would just like some definitives.
Is his 2020 season going to be played as scheduled? When can his student-athletes return to campus for workouts? How are his athletes doing since they are currently working out on their own?
“There are so many uncertainties that it’s crazy,” said Sunahara. “It’s great people are trying to be proactive and we are coming up with different schedules and such, but if we don’t know when we can start, who knows when we can play.
“We just had a Big 12 coaches’ meeting, and we were coming up with various ways we could condense the travel and possibly the season,” he added. “The good thing is we only have nine teams in our conference, so we can manage that. The bad thing is if something is scheduled, what happens if one of the players has the virus? Now do we have to cancel the weekend? Then what happens from there? There are so many uncertainties. We just pray every day we can play at the start.”
A couple WVU’s volleyball players have remained in Morgantown through the COVID-19 shutdown, though most returned to their hometowns.
“We meet as a team multiple times a week through Zoom,” explained Sunahara. “We’re just checking in with them. They are all healthy and safe, which is the most important thing.
“Our strength coach gives them a workout,” continued Sunahara, who took over as WVU’s head coach in 2015. “She can’t be in the Zoom meetings with us, but she can give them a workout they can do by themselves. They’re trying to be creative wherever they are.
“They are working out, which is the main thing. It’s not like basketball, where there is a hoop and they can go shoot by themselves. They have to be creative. They put up some fly boards at an angle and hit off those, pass it to themselves, set, hit, those types of things. What we tell them is as long as they are touching the ball and doing something, that’s will keep them going.”
College volleyball is a fall sport whose regular season follows basically the same timeframe as football – late August through the end of November.
Like football, a normal volleyball schedule is currently in question.
Some college sports are making attempts to lessen travel at this time. WVU’s volleyball program is trying to do some of that itself, though there’s only so much that can be done when in a league whose other members all are located in the Midwest.
“Unfortunately we’re the outliers in the Big 12, so (cutting back on travel) really can’t happen in terms of conference play,” noted Sunahara. “We are trying to do things to make our (non-conference) schedule more regional. In our preseason, we were supposed to travel to Rhode Island and Arizona, but we’ve cancelled those trips because we want to be more regional and protect our players. Now instead of Rhode Island we’re going to North Carolina and Duke, and instead of Arizona, we’re going to Virginia.”
Whenever the volleyball season starts, Sunahara wants to make sure his athletes prepared to get going.
“Typically we need about four to six weeks to get ready for the season,” he stated. “The good thing is the players are working out on their own, and I keep telling them, ‘Hey, you’ve got to workout like we’re playing tomorrow.’”