Kathryn Austin (20) and Ashley Tanguay (18) of Brewer go up for a block in a volleyball match against Wells in October 2018. Credit: Courtesy of Kevin Forrest

While a tackle football schedule has been ruled out for this spring and wrestling remains in limbo, plans are proceeding to offer volleyball and esports during an upcoming “wedge” season for Maine high school sports.

Volleyball is a fall sport in Maine but was postponed in 2020 because state safety guidelines at the time prohibited it from being played indoors.

Those guidelines have changed and indoor sports are now allowed as long as participants wear face coverings at all times. That has set the stage for the Feb. 22 start of volleyball practices, according to Maine Principals’ Association assistant executive director Mike Bisson.

That starting date does conflict with the late stages of the basketball regular season, which is scheduled to end on Feb. 27, followed by the potential for regionalized playoffs in early March.

“There’s going to be a little overlap with the winter sports,” Bisson said. “The feeling from our coaches’ liaison and [volleyball] committee was that if they’re playing basketball, let them play basketball because they’ll be in condition so when we start our matches on March 5, let them join then but leave it as a local decision.”

Volleyball teams will play up to 10 regular-season matches against opponents from the same county or adjacent counties, a schedule that will continue through April 9. If conditions allow, that may be followed by a week of postseason play that would conclude just before the start of April vacation week.

Like other indoor sports this winter, no spectators will be allowed at the volleyball matches in order to comply with the state’s 50-person limit for indoor gatherings. The use of locker rooms also is being discouraged, so teams should arrive at the gym ready to play.

The MPA’s new esports program will have its first spring season beginning March 1 and continuing through April 29, followed by playoffs in early May.

Fourteen schools participated in the inaugural fall esports season, with those teams competing in Rocket League and League of Legends competition.

Enrollment deadline for the spring season is Feb. 26.

“We’re three weeks away from the start of the season and we’ve already got more teams registered than we did in the fall,” Bisson said. “We’ve added some console games, FIFA and Madden 21, for the spring so there’s more options there and we’ve got a lot more teams and a lot more interest.”

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...