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Volleyball tryouts will have a fast pace

Athletes attending tryouts for the girls’ volleyball teams at Vicksburg High and Warren Central won’t have long to make a good impression.

Tryouts for both teams are scheduled for next week, but will be by appointment only and last just 15 minutes per player because of limited gym space. Varsity rosters, meanwhile, are capped at 18 players per team because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The limitations are presenting a challenge not only in how coaches will approach the season, but how they pick the teams in the first place.

“We’re on a tight budget as far as time,” Warren Central coach Matt Gullett said. “One bad thing is, there’s going to be girls I’d like to pick up but we’re only going to be able to carry about 18 on the team because of the CDC guidelines.”

Because of construction at both high schools, Vicksburg and Warren Central will hold their volleyball tryouts at Warren Central Junior High.

Vicksburg High will go first, on June 22 and 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. Prospective players must email coach Deborah Brown at dbrown@vwsd.org by Sunday night to schedule a 15-minute time slot.

Players will come in four at a time, one in each corner of the gym, and roll through a set of basic skill drills, Brown said.

“It’s basically bumping, serving, setting and spiking,” Brown said. “We’re really looking at agility and how they can move.”

To make sure everything runs smoothly, she said all players must have their concussion, physical and parental consent forms completed upon arrival, and should also be warmed up and ready to go when called. Players will also undergo a COVID-19 screening that includes a temperature check, and must bring their own shoes, towels, and water.

All of the necessary forms are available on the Vicksburg Warren School District’s website, vwsd.org.

“It’s really a headache, but it’s about safety,” Brown said. “Once their tryouts are over, they have to exit the premises. Their ride can wait on them, because 20 minutes will go by quick.”

Warren Central’s tryouts will follow the same setup, and are scheduled for June 25 and 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. Varsity players in grades 9-12 should email Gullett at mgullett@vwsd.org by 5 p.m. on June 24 to schedule their slot.

Seventh- and eighth-grade players should email coach Latoya Lumpkin at llumpkin@vwsd.org by June 20 to reserve a spot. Tryouts for the eighth-grade team is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 23 and 24, and seventh-graders are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 24 and 25.

Like Brown, Gullett stressed that players must have all of their forms in order and be stretched and ready to go when it’s their turn.

“We’ve got four drills — overhand serve, serve receives, set and attack. We’re not going to do any ‘how high can you jump?’ exercises or anything like that. It’s volleyball skills,” Gullett said. “They’re going to get a demonstration from a coach and two or three minutes to work on it. We’re not going to be able to measure a ton of skills, so it’s going to favor the girls who have some volleyball knowledge. Unfortunately, we can’t spend a lot of time evaluating somebody that normally we’d look at and say we’d take them on and develop them.”

Both Brown and Gullett said they will cap their varsity rosters at 18 players — both because it’s a manageable number, and because that is likely to be the maximum allowed to be in the gym and travel this season under COVID-19 guidelines set by the state government and Mississippi High School Activities Association.

Six players are on the floor at a time during volleyball matches.

“We carried 30 girls last year, and it was hard to get everybody playing time and practice,” Gullett said.

Brown echoed those thoughts.

“I only keep 18 girls. You’ve got your JV team, too. It’s six girls on the floor at one time, and if you have another six on the bench they might never play,” Brown said.

Any athlete who had a physical after April 1, 2019, does not need to get a new one for the 2020-21 school year. Athletes who are entering the eighth grade, moved into the VWSD in the past year, or whose last physical was before April 1, 2019, must get an updated physical.

The VWSD will conduct free physicals on Saturday, from 8 a.m. to noon, at Warren Central High School. Students must contact their respective coaches for scheduling, and must wear a face mask to the physicals.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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