by Bonnie Binioris, Athletic Director/Health and Safety Coordinator
The Lansing Christian varsity volleyball team saw their typical three-month season turn into a seven-month adventure that included multiple state-mandated pauses, COVID testing as part of a pilot program, and a trip to the quarterfinals, the first since 2005!
When pre-season workouts began in June of 2020, uncertainty amidst the global pandemic of COVID-19 invaded almost every aspect of day-to-day life. Lansing Christian School was working on a plan for in-person education and the MHSAA was working on a structure for fall athletics after the spring 2020 season was canceled entirely. Per the state, all indoor gyms, pools, and athletic facilities remained closed. Teams, like volleyball and swimming, searched for a way to practice while following the MHSAA recommendations for safe participation.
Head Coach Casey Hilts, with his engineering background, created one of the first outdoor courts for a high school program in the state of Michigan. PVC pipe was buried in the ground to accommodate the net structure and the school irrigation sprinklers were a welcome addition to practice on hot summer days!
On September 9, the state ordered that gymnasiums and indoor facilities would be opened and competition between schools could begin. The season looked very different from any other with required face masks worn by all players, coaches and bench personnel, only two spectators per athlete and no handshakes with the opposing team prior to the match.
This talented group of young women played every match with strength and determination and finished with a 27-6-1 regular season record and a 2nd place league finish in the GLAC. During postseason play, the team won a solid District Championship and advanced to regionals at Petersburg Summerfield High School. Lansing Christian went five full sets against Camden-Frontier to advance to the final round against Plymouth Christian. On November 12, Lansing Christian beat Plymouth Christian 3-1 to secure the regional title!
As the team was preparing for the quarterfinal match, scheduled for Tuesday, November 17, the update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on Sunday evening, November 15 brought the season to a standstill. The last six remaining days of the season were postponed indefinitely.
November rolled into December and for 41 days, the volleyball team was not allowed to practice or compete. As the MHSAA worked with the MDHHS to find a path forward to complete the season, a pilot program was introduced that would require our athletes, coaches and bench personnel to undergo COVID-19 rapid testing three days a week.
On January 4, the LCS volleyball team was finally able to practice again in preparation for their quarterfinal match, scheduled for January 12, against Battle Creek St. Philip. Although Battle Creek St. Philip ultimately took the match in 5 sets, ending the season for LCS, the Pilgrims overcame so many obstacles and persevered throughout an unpredictable season. Thank you, team and coaches, for an unforgettable season!