If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught the Alma Lady Airedales’ volleyball team, and in a year of uncertainty there have been a lot — don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
"It’s very exciting, especially with everything going on," senior Lydia Swarnes said. "With all the games (teams) playing in the arena, I think it’s a chance for all of us to come together. It’s kind of like the opening to our home season — and to the rest of the season, hopefully."
An outside hitter, Swarnes is among a handful of seniors ready to hit the court Monday as the Lady Airedales host defending 2A state champion Hackett.
"I know things are going to be different; I’ve seen the roped off sections where it’s going to be limited," senior Sidney Hatley said. "We had a great student section last year, and now that’s going to probably look a little different. We’re hoping we still get support, even from a distance."
Monday’s home opener will give a number of Alma’s senior class a chance to finish on a high note with Hackett. The two schools have forged a friendly rivalry starting with travel ball.
"We were the first Alma travel (volleyball) team," Swarnes said. "We started off playing for Velocity and we played them (Hackett) a lot. Now, they’ve (Alma) developed younger teams, which is going to help.
"We kind of have a rivalry with them from travel ball," Hatley said. "With the satellite team we used to have, they were one of our biggest competitors, and last year we actually beat them. They’re really, really good."
Senior Lettie Crabtree is excited about playing in front of her fellow students, but also cautious because of who they’re playing against.
"We’ve played them since seventh grade and in travel ball, too, so it’s a big rivalry - especially with us being at home," Crabtree said. "There’s a lot of pressure. But at the same time, with corona (virus), we didn’t even think we would get to play."
The Lady Airedales, who dropped a tough five-set decision to Morrilton Tuesday, have bought into first-year-year coach Kim Weaver’s way of doing things.
"After every game, she kind of gives us a debriefing paper, on how we feel we played and how much better we think we can get," Hatley said. "I think that shows how much she’s invested and how much she cares."
"She’s very optimistic, but she’s also instructive," Swarnes said. "You can tell she has a really vast knowledge of volleyball. She’s helped us work on aspects in the game and off the court as well. She’s very intuitive. She knows what she’s doing. It’s really exciting and good for the program, and she’s also setting a really good foundation.
"The future will be really good because of her."
"She wants us to do all the little things right," added Crabtree. "You want to live up to her expectations."