BEAUFORT — The East Carteret volleyball squad became the first county high school team to see the new season affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mariners were set to begin the delayed campaign this week but instead will need to wait out a 14-day quarantine after a player tested positive.

“I’ve said this from the start – we don’t need to worry about competing for state championships this year,” East Carteret Athletic Director Daniel Griffee said of the athletic program’s goals during the 2020-2021 calendar. “We just need to worry about playing the games.”

Volleyball, like every other sport except football with seven games, has witnessed the coronavirus pandemic limit the schedule to just 14 contests during an amended regular season that ends Jan. 8. Losing two weeks means the Mariners will now play three games a week to fulfill its schedule.

“The state says we can only play a maximum of three a week as long as it’s due to COVID or weather,” Griffee said. “And so I had to call and ask for permission to reschedule the games to give us three games a week.”

However, rescheduling means finding cooperation from the other teams in the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference. And that isn’t always going to be the case because those teams may not be able to play on open dates.

“The date we had open to play Dixon, they have a conflict, and we can’t force them to play, so we will play a doubleheader versus Dixon there to get the full season in,” Griffee said.

Rescheduling volleyball games is made more difficult due to two breaks for Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as a basketball season that will begin Jan. 4 and take valuable gym time.

“And we’re lucky we’re the only team dealing with this now,” Griffee said. “Imagine if another team in our conference was out there rescheduling games and we had to deal with that too.”

And while there is hardly anything good about East’s situation, the fact it happened now and not later is better.

“You get one ‘get out of jail free card,’” Griffee said. “As long as it isn’t past week three of your season, you can still hustle and get the games in. If it happens to us again, the season is pretty much shot, because there is no time to get the games in.”

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