Volleyball Leaves for State

Nabila Siddiqui, Co-Editor

  Tomorrow the volleyball conference champions compete in the state finals at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs. After qualifying in the new tournament format created to offset teams missing regular season games due to COVID, the team takes on Fayetteville for the championship.

   “This time the state tournament was at Fayetteville High School and the finals are going to be in Hot Springs which is different from last year but at this point we’re just glad it’s happening,” junior Tori Tiffee said.  

   Tickets must be purchased online and fans attending the two o’clock match will be required to adhere to pandemic protocols.  Also, the venue restricts purses and bags.  Only transparent bags are allowed.  

    “The girls were excited to get to play with each other one more time.  Only 10 teams in the state get to compete for a State Championship.  You always want to be in that special group of 10,” coach Natalie Throneberry said.

   Last year, the student body dismissed classes to the gym to give the team a pep rally send-off. However, due to gym capacity limitations because of COVID, the send-off was limited. 

   “In previous years we were able to have big send-offs, but with COVID, that looks and feels very different…The atmosphere this time is very laid back and we really enjoyed our time as a team,” Throneberry said. 

   To prepare for state, the team practiced consistently throughout quarantine periods which eliminated players and coaches during the first semester.  Last summer, coaches adjusted workouts and practices to fit COVID/AAA guidelines. 

   “We continued virtual workouts through the end of the school year in 2020.  We started doing some workouts when the AAA permitted it in June and continued in July and August as we saw some restrictions loosen,” Throneberry said, “we took all precautions very seriously and finally played our first matches in August.  We continued to practice or play daily through September and October.” 

      As the team steps onto the court tomorrow, Coach Throneberry hopes to help the girls appreciate the season no matter the final outcome.

   “Getting to compete for a State Championship is one of the best feelings you can have as a team.  You know that all of your hard work and sacrifice paid off… At the end of the day, I expect these girls to play tough and play together, I know they won’t disappoint,” Throneberry said.