The 2022 volleyball season gets underway in the Imperial Valley on Saturday as the Southwest High Eagles host their annual girls’ volleyball carnival. The carnival comes less than a week after the CIF-San Diego Section’s opening of practice on Monday and can begin playing official matches beginning next Monday.
“It will be an extremely busy week,” said Southwest varsity coach Sarah Marquez. “We are starting practice as we did last year at this time and we are getting ready for the carnival and we have four matches in the next two weeks.”
The carnival features ‘scrimmages’ between five Valley high schools in addition to the host Eagles including Brawley, Calexico, Central, Holtville, and Imperial.
The CIF-SDS Green Book defines a ‘scrimmage’ as an activity involving teams from two or more different schools in a CIF-approved sport with certain conditions.
Unlike a game or match, a scrimmage has no official score, no regulation time is kept; substitute rules are set aside and most importantly, coaches may stop play for instructional purposes.
CIF allows schools to participate in a maximum of two scrimmages per sport prior to the first interscholastic contest with volleyball teams having a maximum number of 28 matches before October 21St this year.
“We’ve played in it every year that I’ve coached,” Holtville varsity volleyball coach Chelsey Strahm said. “It basically gives our teams a chance to get comfortable with each other on the court and learn to communicate.”
For participating team’s coaches, a carnival is an option to scrimmage against multiple opponents at one venue.
“For the coaches, I feel it helps us to see different lineups and rotations against some tough competition,” Strahm said. “Also the players get plenty of repetitions and they get to see different offenses and defenses early on in the season.”
Southwest High has hosted the season-opening carnival scrimmage for over a decade.
“It’s a major fundraiser for our program and there is a $3.00 entry fee for anyone over five years old,” Marquez said. “The entry fee is for all the matches and we will have a snack bar so we won’t allow any outside food or drink.”
The carnival has evolved over the years and this year for the first time all three courts of Southwest High’s gym will be in use.
“We are using all three courts so spectators need to bring their own chairs,” Marquez said, noting that Southwest has the Valley’s largest gym. “It makes the play go faster and we did it during the club season and it seemed to work well.”
For Valley teams, there is an additional benefit in that the carnival is local, cutting down travel for teams and fans. The Calipatria High Hornets, for example, will have a scrimmage on Saturday morning against the Mt. Empire High Redmen at 10:00 am in Pine Valley.
All the schools attending the carnival will have three levels competing except for Brawley under recently appointed varsity coach Lindsay Rubin.
Rubin, who will make her debut on Wednesday when the Wildcats host the Palo Verde Yellowjackets in a non-league match, found herself unable to coach Saturday when appointed coach in mid-July.
“We are missing the carnival due to a prior commitment from before I was hired,” Rubin explained. “We don’t have a scrimmage scheduled this year so we are practicing but we will be there next year.”