This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for the 2021-22 season for the Medaille College men.

The men’s 2022 season is officially underway!

Getting started

It was definitely a rocky start to preseason, which was slated to begin on Jan 4th. I was already down one guy who tested positive for covid the week before, thus was doing his 10-day isolation. Another guy reported the day before that he was tied up with a family issue the whole first week. That reduced our 10-man squad down to 8 potentials, though one was still needing to get all his paperwork completed. We had initial testing in the morning. Two guys missed it, one tested positive, and one was sick and later ended up with a positive test. So I only had four guys cleared. No practice that day.

The next day the two who missed got their acts together and made their test, getting us up to six. I ran a session that was just 3s play in a couple different ways to give them a chance to shake off the rust.

Day 3 was snowed out. Day 4 we got the guy back who was isolating, but had another go down with symptoms after having close contact with someone who tested positive. So still on six for that day and the next. We did a bunch of serve and pass type stuff, with more 3v3 variations to work on different game elements.

The guy out with family stuff was due back last Monday, but had close contact over the weekend, so they made him test both Monday and Wednesday before letting him back in. As a result, it was still just six 6 guys until Wednesday. On Tuesday the guy who had come up symptomatic the prior week finally got both a rapid test and a PCR. The rapid came back negative, but we had to wait on the PCR for final clearance.

On Thursday I found out the two guys who tested positive the initial day would not be available for our first match on Saturday. We originally thought they’d be able to return to action on Friday, but turns out that wasn’t the case. Had we had an afternoon/evening match, they could have been available. The requirement for them to clear, however, was a doctor’s evaluation and a cardio assessment from our Training staff. on Saturday AM No way those both could happen in time for a 10am start.

As it turns out, the guy waiting on his PCR results finally got them Saturday morning. He went through a cardio assessment as well, after which the Trainer deemed him fit to play on Sunday.

First tournament

This ended up less of a tournament and more just two matches. Late in the day on Friday I found out Juniata, who we were scheduled to play at 11am Sunday, had to cancel. Ahead of the big Winter storm coming in starting that day, PA announced some highway closures starting at 2pm. That knocked them out.

Our first match, though, was Saturday at Nazareth. While they didn’t make the preseason Top 15, they did get votes, so definitely a strong team. We had 7 guys, and two of them were libero/DS types. Yeah, that’s right. I had to play a small guy at OH. I also had to play the guy I normally have at OPP in the middle. Before last year that was his main position, so not a big deal, but not ideal. You can guess the result. We had some good moments, but nowhere near enough of them.

We originally planned to play St. John Fisher at 1:00 (they hosted the day’s matches), but with Juniata dropping out, we pushed that up to 11:00. Fisher came in at #11 in the preseason poll, so another tough one. We did get one of the positive guys back after they cleared on Saturday (one still has paperwork to complete). That gave us full positional coverage, which was good. We definitely looked like a team that didn’t have much time together, though. You can guess the result.

Interestingly, although Juniata was #12 in the preseason poll, Nazareth beat them in 4 Saturday evening.

Coming up

I don’t know when our 10th guy will finally clear up his admin stuff. At least we have nine to begin the week, though. And I should also get a couple of my new assistants in the gym helping out as well. That will up the level of our training!

On Friday we head to Misericordia for a tournament there. That evening we play St. Norbert. They’re an interesting story as they just started the program in the 2020 season. Then they didn’t play at all last year, so I don’t really know what to expect. Not that it matters a whole lot. We need to focus on our side of the net.

Saturday we play the hosts at 11:00, then Lancaster Bible at 1:00. The latter is another “receiving votes” team, so they should be a tough match. Misericordia I think is probably somewhere around our level. Should make for a competitive one.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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