Ceri Godinez
Teacher Fran Daly tips ball over Malia Jorgensen-Geise’s block in Glacier Bears’ Halloween exhibition game against school staff. The girls beat their teachers in two sets.

The Glacier Bears volleyball team beat school staff in an Oct. 29 exhibition game, or they would have if anyone had really been keeping score.

“I think that the game against the staff went well. It was very fun and exciting to see our teachers and staff play,” said sophomore Alison Benda, one of the team’s two captains.

For the game, 11 school staff members in Halloween costumes, coached by 15-year-old volunteer Jacob Weerasinghe, faced off against the Glacier Bears. The staff, referee and linesmen were decked out in costumes including lab coats, animal onesies, cheerleader outfits and a tourist costume, complete with a canister of bear spray.

The Glacier Bears won in two sets. The first set was close, with both teams seeming to warm up as the set progressed, resulting in longer rallies. In the second set, dominant serves from Grace Long and captain Willow Oakley helped the team cruise to a 25-14 win.

Trash talking from the teachers could be heard in the stands, cries of “I still have to grade your test,” as the girls walked up to the service line.

Staff and students continued to play, even after the girls won in the second set, playing a third set which the teachers ended up winning by a few points.

Volleyball coach Katie Bard said the idea for the Halloween exhibition game against staff came from a desire to give her team the experience of competitive play during a year when that’s been virtually impossible.

“We weren’t able to travel at all due to COVID and the mitigation plans the school put together. The main goal for this year has been to further develop our skills but also have fun in a safe way,” Bard said. “Creating spaces where the team can play competitively is important for me. We have been able to scrimmage the high school boys on a weekly basis, but I wanted the team to be able to see different styles of play and play different groups.”

Bard said the teachers were a good match for the girls.

“They had a whole range of skills including people who played in high school and four who have coached volleyball at some point in their lives. They were very thoughtful in how they placed the ball,” Bard said, contrasting the teacher team with the high school boys, who tend to be more energetic and unpredictable.

In addition to travel restrictions, the team has a number of COVID-19 mitigation measures in place this year including pre-game health screenings, masking during warmups and routine sanitization of both volleyballs and hands during games and practice.

Bard said she doesn’t think there’ll be a rematch between the girls and the staff, but she hopes to put together at least one more game before the end of the season.

“I’m hoping to put together a team of some alumni women, women that have played volleyball, ideally at Haines,” Bard said “I think that would be the ultimate match up for the girls, an organized team with experience.”

According to the Alaska School Activities Association, this year, volleyball season must end by Nov. 21.