Port Allen's Rachel Daigle returns the ball during a game last season. The Lady Pelicans are set to the start the 2020 season next week.

Prep volleyball teams in West Baton Rouge Parish get the opportunity to kick off their seasons next week while Louisiana remains in Phase 2.

The LHSAA sent out a memo to its schools Monday with the decision to start the season, which also allows schools to hold two scrimmages against other schools this week before the season starts Sept. 8.

The big difference for schools will be adjustment to games in Phase 2, which allows for static groups of 25 athletes combined for the two teams, along with a total of 10 essential staff, including two officials, coaches, athletic trainers, etc.

The original plan to start Sept. 8 was based on the idea that Louisiana’s reopening would already have entered Phase 3, which allows for groups of 50. Gov. John Bel Edwards extended Phase 2 for an additional 14 days with an executive order that went into effect Aug. 28.

Temperature checks, benches that are socially distanced and facemasks are required, though players will have the option to decide whether they want to wear a facemask while playing. Officials, coaches, other essential staff and players on the benches must wear facemasks.

Also, when schools play junior varsity/varsity contests, the gym must be sanitized between contests.

Port Allen volleyball coach Kendra Wells said fans aren’t allowed to attend games yet, which includes the team’s scrimmage Thursday at 4 p.m. at home against Plaquemine.

“We’re just trying to make everything seem and feel as normal as possible right now,” Wells said. “We want to keep them relaxed and focused so it’s full steam ahead if and when the season starts. We’re just making every day fun.”

Wells said she was unsure that there would be a season months ago, but as the date gets closer, her focus has been on her team enjoying the moment and not worrying about any distractions, which include no fans in the stands.

“It’s not going to be fun playing without fans, but our girls are at the point where they just want to play,” she said.

The Brusly volleyball program has had to split up the team into two groups and hold practices with half of the team in the morning and the other half in the afternoon, all while the facility at the new school is being finished.

The Lady Panthers practiced at the Port Allen Community Center all summer and when school opened, they transitioned to the middle school gym, which was the old high school facility.

Not having fans in the stands has an impact that stretches beyond who's there to cheer for the kids, according to Brusly volleyball coach Kayla Sarradet.

"It affects us tremendously," she said. "We use the money from the gate and concessions to pay officials. Without fans, we have to dip into another fund to pay officials."

According to the schedules on the LHSAA website, Brusly is set to start the season next Wednesday at home against Live Oak, while Port Allen will open the season next Tuesday at home against Family Christian. Both games may be subject to change.

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