CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — As other teams start making their way back to campus, the Illini Volleyball team is eager to get back as well. According to Illinois’ plan to bring athletes back to campus amid the COVID-19 pandemic, volleyball is scheduled come back in July.
Under the new protocol, voluntary workouts are all that’s allowed right now, but head coach Chris Tamas is hoping the team will be able to get time on the volleyball court. With the Illini having to replace five starters, he says their time will be better spent on the court than in the weightroom.
“The more time that they have that they’re able to play in those types of situations–that’s what we’re hoping for,” says Tamas. “But we know we have to take their safety into consideration. I’m very appreciative of the DIA that they’re taking their time to make sure everyone’s coming back in a safe manner.”
Right now, the timeline doesn’t allow for Illini athletes to do any kind of sport-specific training. Equipment, like volleyballs, is prohibited. Typically during the summer, athletes will arrive mid-June. They’ll do weightlifting workouts, while organizing “captain’s practices” or open gyms on their own. The spring is when the Illini do the bulk of their off season training, but they’re ready to sling-shot into preseason if the fall goes on as scheduled.
“They just want a season however that looks, they’ll just be excited to get back on the court and play, I know that’s the main thing,” says Tamas. “This group really enjoys being around one another, that’s the main goal right now. After that we’ll kind of take whatever’s given to us, and we’ll just kind of go day by day.”
For the NCAA to hold a championship season, the Illini will need to play at least 19 conference games.