EAGAR — The 2020 volleyball season will be unlike any that came before for the Round Valley Elks.

The Elks and nearby rival St. Johns will both be competing in the 2A South region with Miami, Eloy Santa Cruz and Tucson schools San Miguel and St. Augustine this year.

Round Valley plays host to St. Johns tonight in a much-anticipated region match.

The move from the 2A North region came after all schools on the reservations in northern and eastern Arizona postponed all athletics and activities through the end of 2020 due of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are very excited for our season to begin,” Elks head coach Marcelle Donaldson stated in an email. “Our players are excited and a little nervous to be competing in the 2A South region this year. We don’t know anything about that region so it will be an adventure every night.”

Karli Haws, the 2019 2A North Player of the Year, leads four other returning starters on this year’s squad. The Elks return both their outside hitters both setters as well as their libero and could be poised for a great season.

“Karli Haws and MacKenzie Merrill are our returning outside hitters,” said Coach Donaldson. “They are both stronger and better this year.

“Both of our setters are returning this year in Shiloh McCall and Jessica Soderberg. They have been working very hard on improving their game.”

“Belle Walker is our returning libero. She is doing a great job serving and playing defense,” said the coach.

We have a freshman, Lauren Bates, coming from Alpine who is starting for us this year. Lauren is a great young player and has an exciting future ahead,” Donaldson said.

“Kenadee Bell is another returning senior that is a multi-purpose player. Kyrie Walker and Mireya Wood are our middle hitters/blockers. We are hoping to improve our blocking game with them. They are both doing a great job. Mireya is an excellent defender, nothing hits the floor if she can get to it,” said the coach.

Donaldson said her team is ready for a great season and is looking forward to playing volleyball.

“I feel our greatest strengths are our ability to play as a team and to hustle after every ball,” Donaldson said. “We are having a fun time in practice and just love playing the game.

“Our biggest concerns really are traveling to Tucson and having to wear masks all of the time,” said the coach. “We don’t ever have to wear masks at Round Valley, so the girls and the coaching staff are trying to get used to wearing masks. I feel like that is our biggest stress at this time.”

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