Unable to play indoors because of COVID-19 issues and state health restrictions, the girls indoor volleyball teams at the three Santa Barbara-area Channel League schools are headed to the sand courts to get in some matches with one week left until the season ends.
“We are so grateful for this opportunity to get out on the sand and just play,” Santa Barbara coach Ariana Garner said.
Scheduled to start in December under the CIF’s two-season sports calendar, indoor volleyball hasn’t been permitted because of a surge in the virus in December and January and the sport being in the moderate orange tier of the state’s color-tiered system of COVID-19 transmission risk. Basketball and wrestling are in the minimal yellow tier.
In the state’s youth sports guidelines that were updated last week, volleyball, basketball and wrestling were allowed to be contested indoors if the programs followed the stricter requirements in place for college teams. Those requirements include a rigorous testing plan for student athletes and staff around each competition, which would be very difficult and costly to accomplish.
With March 20 as the CIF’s end date for the girls’ season, the volleyball coaches and athletic directors at the Santa Barbara Unified School District high schools decided to organize matches on the sand courts to give their indoor volleyball players, especially the seniors, an opportunity to compete.
“This is particularly special for our five seniors as they have put an immense amount of time and energy into this program over the past years,” Garner said.
The matches will include all three levels of competition: freshmen, JV and varsity, according to DP coach Megan O’Carroll, who will host the first match on Monday.
The Chargers will play San Marcos on DP’s new Twin Palms Volleyball Complex. The freshmen and JV start at 4 p.m., and the varsity will follow around 5 p.m.
“It’s very low key … just for fun,” O’Carroll said.
She noted that only immediate family members of the players will be allowed to attend, and everyone must wear masks.
Santa Barbara will play at San Marcos on Tuesday, with the varsity match at 5 p.m.
San Marcos coach Tina Brown said two people per player will be allowed to watch from outside the fenced playing facility, and everyone must wear a mask.
Dos Pueblos will host Santa Barbara in the final match on Friday, with the varsity starting at 2:45 p.m., and the JV and freshmen to follow.
The matches will be best-of-three sets.