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  • Writer's picturepeters1119

Girls Volleyball: Michigan City to finally start its season

Every team wants to be one of the last to finish their season.

Michigan City is in the unfortunate position of being one of the last ones to start.

The Wolves, who had practice paused a few weeks due to a potential positive COVID-19 test results, will finally get to have a match Thursday when they host Valparaiso.

"Obviously, it's been a very trying year," City coach Jim Kaufman said. "I've heard it's a problem many people have had, talking to other schools. We're behind the eight ball, trying now to get a feel of the team. We're frustrated hearing that she apparently wasn't positive and we still had to wait it out 17 days."

M.C. was shut down for a week during conditioning when an athlete in another sport tested positive. It had returned to the court for initial start of tryouts when it was learned that a player who had been at conditioning the week before supposedly positive.

The Wolves had to start from scratch Aug. 17, needing to get 10 practices in before it could play. It had to cancel matches with Lowell, Morgan Township and Portage as a result.

Michigan City will open its season Thursday after having practice delayed over two weeks due to concerns of a possible positive COVID-19 test by a player who participated in conditioning. The test reportedly turned out negative, but the Wolves still were unable to return to the gym until last week.

"We were pretty upset because, coming in, we thought we were going to be a little better than expected, then we had to take a break," senior setter Alexa Sparks said. "We didn't want to get rusty, so we got together in groups to stay sharp on things. We'd take turns going to each other's houses, just peppering the past two weeks."

While the situation certainly isn't ideal, the team came back with the right frame of mind to get going again.

"We're working really hard," Sparks said. "We just acted like we were on break. We're using it as something positive, to encourage us to play harder. We want to have a good season, so we're not going to let it affect us."

Sparks said many of the players got tested just as a precaution (all were negative), though they were pretty sure they hadn't been around the player in question, and also stayed home as much as they could.

"I was pleased with how the girls refocused," Kaufman said. "They were very anxious to get back in the gym and start practicing. They know they have to work hard, push a little harder. We're not going to try to use it as a crutch. The same thing could've happened to any other team and unfortunately, it was us. They don't even talk about it."

Michigan City was tasked with replacing standouts Aaliyah Briggs and Reece Shirley, but Kaufman has seen improvements in club play from varsity newcomers Eden Jasicki, Sam Jasinski and Mirabella Hernandez to join veterans Sparks, Micah Ruhe and Ellery Dolezal.

"I've been pleasantly surprised with the growth of a couple young girls," Kaufman said. "We're looking now like we could be way better than we thought. Valpo's a perennial powerhouse and the whole DAC is loaded, but we're really hoping to be better than bottom half, which is how we ended last year."

Sparks and Ruhe both have personal milestones in mind with each aiming to reach the 1,000 mark in assists and digs, respectively.

"I definitely want to finish out with a bang," said Sparks, who plan to play in college. "I'm really close on some offers. I'm going to try the best I have in the past four years."

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