BAR HARBOR — It’s a normal environment once again for the Mount Desert Island volleyball team – sort of.
Masks, required even during play, are still present inside MDI’s Bunny Parady Gymnasium, and the floor, for the first time in 53 years, is brand-new. Yet after an unusual year on the high school volleyball circuit, the Trojans are at least getting ready for a season with its usual schedule and structure.
“It’s almost normal,” MDI head coach Corey Papadopoli said. “We’ve been waiting to get back on a normal schedule, so after last year, it’s nice to able to have that again.”
The return of fall volleyball has been something that’s been much-needed for MDI and other schools after the sport’s rollercoaster 2020-21 school year. Now, the Trojans are just days away from playing indoor fall volleyball for the first time in two years.
Although MDI and other teams had hoped for an indoor season to materialize last fall, those hopes were ultimately dashed after the state refused to allow indoor sports to take place. After the Maine Principals’ Association pushed the indoor season to early 2021, teams played an exhibition-oriented outdoor slate in October.
In March and April, MDI played an altered “tweener” season between the conclusion of winter sports and the beginning of spring sports. The Trojans went 5-4 in the regular season before defeating Nokomis in the Penobscot Valley Conference Large-School pool quarterfinals and falling to Brewer in the semifinals.
“Our goal was that, indoors or outdoors, we wanted our players to be getting touches no matter what,” Papadopoli said. “I actually like playing outdoors – the sand pit is great – but the biggest thing last year was just being able to keep in touch with the players and stay active. I was glad we were able to do that.”
This fall, MDI is tasked with replacing some of its top players from the March/April intersession campaign. Victoria Del Cid, the Trojans’ top setter and a 2019 All-Penobscot Valley Conference selection, has graduated, as has Nevaeh Warren, one of the team’s statistical leaders.
MDI, though, does return a top server in junior Addy Boyce as well as key contributors such as Leah Carroll and Claire Moore. The Trojans’ lineup overall is set to vary from match to match as the team establishes itself throughout the season.
“Right now, we have no idea what our starting lineup is going to be, and it can change every single match, as it usually does,” Papadopoli said. “We’re going to keep putting them out there in these six-on-six situations and see what happens, but right now, it’s wide open.”
The new hardwood floor installed over the summer has brought a different look to the court at MDI. The surface itself isn’t necessarily different but playing on a floor that’s much more clearly marked will be a major benefit.
“When we play on our center court, we’ll actually get a chance to see the white lines,” Papadopoli said. “That’s going to be a huge help for us, and we’ll get to see that when we play our first home match.”
MDI will open the season on the road against Woodland at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4. The Trojans will then return to Washington County on Tuesday to face PVC Large-School champion Washington Academy at 5:30 p.m.
After playing two more road matches (5:30 p.m. next Thursday, Sept. 9, against Nokomis; 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, against George Stevens Academy), MDI will play its first home match when it hosts Brewer at 6 p.m. Sept. 16. Papadopoli believes fans returning to watch an indoor sporting event at MDI for the first time since February 2020 will be watching a team with a high ceiling.
“I think this is a good group,” Papadopoli said. “If we can come together as a team, which is something you work on all season, I think there’s a huge amount of potential here.”