The Brunswick/Mt. Ararat volleyball team works on serves as coach Seth Hartman looks on during practice Monday at Brunswick High School. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

It’s been about 16 months since the Brunswick/Mt. Ararat co-operative volleyball team played a match against another opponent. Actually, it’s been about 16 months since the team has even stepped on a volleyball court. 

Now, with the abbreviated volleyball season opening — the traditional fall season was postponed due to the ongoing pandemic — coaches and players are excited to get going. 

“The girls are very excited to go out there and play,” said new Brunswick/Mt. Ararat head coach Seth Hartman. “I don’t think it’s really set in for them yet. I think that when the matches come is when it will really sink in that we are doing this, and that it’s time to roll.”

While teams were allowed to begin practicing Feb. 22, Brunswick/Mt. Ararat started a week later. 

Teams are allowed to play up to 10 matches. The first countable matches were allowed to begin March 5, with the season coming to an end on April 9. 

“It’s going to be a really fast month or so for us that will require for us to be locked in,” said Cony head coach Lindsey Morin. 

Cony volleyball players scrimmage during a Sept. 10 practice in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file photo Buy this Photo

Cony returns a veteran team with eight seniors. For the underclassmen, Morin is hoping they can use this season to sharpen their skills and learn from the experienced seniors.

“The varsity squad is taking this season like any other, if not with more competitiveness than usual,” said Morin. “Our JV team has vastly improved since the fall by practicing with our varsity team, so we are hoping that continues this spring.”

The Rams were one of just a handful of teams around the state that participated in an outdoor fall season. While it was a breath of fresh air to have some matches in the fall, it still wasn’t quite the same as a typical season.

“We went into the fall season ready to compete with the thought in the back of our minds knowing it was much different, and it definitely was,” Morin said. “With this ‘tweener’ season, we are able to get back to our usual environment to compete.”

The Gardiner volleyball squad was able to hold some outdoor matches in the fall. Coach Tiffany Grover looked at the fall season as a primer for this spring season.

“In the fall it was more about being out there, having fun, and having a place for the players to exercise,” said Grover. “Now, we are looking to build our program and send our three seniors out with a successful season.”

The Tigers opened with a match Monday against Messalonskee, where they fell in four sets. Their next match was scheduled for Thursday against Lake Region. 

“Our first match went alright, there are things we need to improve upon as we find our groove,” added Grover. 

The Brunswick/Mt. Ararat volleyball team practices Monday at Brunswick High School. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

During these first couple of weeks, players who compete in volleyball and basketball have found themselves playing two sports at once. This is on display at Gardiner with the girls basketball team making their postseason run.

“It’s been tough this week with them in playoff mode for basketball, and us just getting underway in volleyball,” said Grover. “I am so proud of how they’ve adapted and have handled the increased workload during this time.”

While you can call it a “double-season” in a way for the Rams and the Tigers, the same cannot be said for the Dragons, who did not have any type of competition during the fall season. 

“I’m mostly excited for our seniors, they all have aspirations to play at the next level and by having this spring season and it will allow them to showcase their talents,” Hartman said. 

The Dragons first match is set to take place Monday, when they host Messalonskee. Brunswick finishes its busy first week with a match at Messalonskee. They will then finish the week on Friday in Cumberland against Greely. 

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