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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Sports

A look inside UH Volleyball practice as they prepare for the 2020 season


Sophomore middle block Rachel Tullos spikes a ball during a recent practice. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Sophomore middle block Rachel Tullos spikes a ball during a recent practice. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Screening questions, temperature checks and weekly COVID-19 tests are the new normal for the UH volleyball team as they get ready for the upcoming season.

After months of Zoom meetings, the team was finally cleared to meet in person and begin practicing at the UH Athletics-Alumni Center on Aug. 7, but everything looks a little different due to all the necessary precautions that had to be put in place to ensure that the players and coaches are safe.

Aside from being tested for COVID-19 every Thursday, there are daily precautions that each athlete is required to go through before being cleared to practice that day.

Before entering the building, each player is required to fill out a checklist that asks if they have recently experienced any symptoms linked to COVID-19 or if they have been around someone who has tested positive for the virus.

After completing the checklist, each member of the team has their temperature taken to make sure they do not have a fever.

Once a player has been cleared, they can head to the practice courts, but they must enter a certain way as there are gates put up throughout the Athletics-Alumni Center to limit the number of places an athlete can be.

As for the actual practices, second-year head coach David Rehr said not much has changed from seasons past about the ways they currently conduct practice and the drills they do in practice.

However, one change is that they are taking things a little slower due to their first game being pushed back to, at the earliest, Sept. 1.

“Normally we have two and a half weeks of preseason, but now we have almost a month before we play our first game,” Rehr said. “So we’re taking things a little slower just because there’s no reason to rush.”

One benefit to being able to take things a little slower is that the Cougars have seven new members on the team, three freshmen and four transfers, so the extra time gives them a little more time for the new players to become more familiar with the team’s system.

It also allows them to build chemistry with their new teammates.

“We did lose a lot of seniors, so I think the chemistry is a little bit different from last year, but we’re building a really good program around the new people and I think they’re really good additions to the team,” sophomore outside hitter Abbie Jackson said.

While there are many things that need to be worked on as the Cougars are only a week into practices, Rehr sees many positives from his new players and likes the new type of competition it provides for returning players.

“Seven new kids gives us a chance to have a different team and different environment, and seeing those kids excel is nice,” Rehr stated. “We have good competition in the gym with our returners plus our new transfers and freshman. So there’s a lot of positives right now.”

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