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The 2020 Scott High volleyball team is pictured.

MADISON — Volleyball is on its way back with the school year, and Scott High’s Lady Skyhawks have been hard at work preparing for it. With the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting the United States, the team has been practicing with masks on to increase safety.

Scott Head Coach Liz Underwood and Assistant Coach Angela Phillips are working with a much different team from the one they had in 2019. Five seniors, all of whom were starters, graduated last year. The team has six juniors on its roster and six returners. The squad has gotten younger, with mostly freshmen and sophomores in their numbers. After last year’s first-ever volleyball sectional win for Scott High School, approaching 2020 with the hopes of repeating has come as a challenge due to the changes the SSAC has had to implement. Coaches and parents will be the only people allowed to attend games, so parents’ support will be important.

Underwood and Phillips are pleased with the feeder system coming into Scott, with travel ball and Madison’s volleyball league where students are able to hone their skills outside of organized school sports. Last year’s seniors were among the first who had been able to play volleyball in middle school, and it has served them well.

“The talent I see coming up is really getting good,” Underwood said.

Juniors Abigail Walls and Jolyssa Mullins are slated to play key roles on the team as hitters. Defensive returners include sophomores Jenna Butcher and Kayleigh Ellis. Returning setter junior Emmalee Dunlap and seniors Kristen Arthur and McKinley Martin will also be playing large parts. Competition for spots on the team is high right now, which Underwood notes is a positive. Hitting their stride will be important and finding their confidence, aggressiveness, and communication is what the coach wants to see.

“I want them to want the ball every time,” Underwood said. “Knowledge-wise, we’re ahead of where we were last year.”

Playing and practicing in the midst of COVID-19 has changed how Scott’s coaches look at their schedule. Underwood says that everything is subject to change at any time, so she has told her players to expect anything at any step of the way.

“I tell them to be ready to play any given day. That’s all we can do,” she said.

Most of her worries come from frequent opponents whose counties are in the red in terms of the pandemic. They can only take it day by day.

Scott is expected to open its season at Mingo Central on Thursday, Sept. 3, at a time to be announced. The girls play their first home match on Thursday, Sept. 10, against Chapmanville Regional High School at a time to be announced.