BEMIDJI -- After practicing in limbo this fall, the Bemidji High School volleyball team can now prepare for a season on its own terms.

“It’s really special,” senior middle hitter Emma Huberty said. “(Having) any senior season is special, but especially when you weren’t expecting to play. Coming to practice every day, not knowing if you’re going to get that opportunity, I think it makes every day more and more special to be on the court.”

Masks couldn’t hide the smiles underneath them during Monday’s practice at the high school -- officially the first one of the season. When the Minnesota State High School League reversed its decision that moved volleyball to the spring, BHS was granted the opportunity to savor the season in the present.

“It feels great,” senior setter Emily Wade said. “It’s our senior season, our last time out there to be with our friends and enjoy every moment.”

Following a 13-16 record last year, Bemidji will try to reload its offensive weapons this fall. Although the preseason is shortened with the regular season quickly approaching, that becomes the focal point early on.

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“We lost some of our offensive players from last year,” Huberty said. “We didn’t have as much time to prepare as we’d like to. Coming to practice, focusing on that and working together, I think we’ll have a really strong group.”

Lumberjack senior Emma Huberty (right) digs a ball during a drill at Monday's practice at the high school. (Micah Friez / Bemidji Pioneer)
Lumberjack senior Emma Huberty (right) digs a ball during a drill at Monday's practice at the high school. (Micah Friez / Bemidji Pioneer)

Games across the state can begin as early as Oct. 8. Bemidji, like other fall sports, will play Central Lakes Conference opponents, though the finalized schedule hasn’t yet been announced.

But for four seniors on the roster -- Huberty, Wade, Jenna Anderson and Taylor Waukazo -- whoever they play isn’t as important as just having the opportunity to play.

“It’s our last time out there, so we just put everything out on the court,” Wade said. “It’s nice now that we also have the opportunity to do club season in the spring. … You can definitely tell that everybody is ready to get back on the court. Everybody is super excited today to be back.”

That energy has been contagious among the Lumberjacks.

“Everybody is pretty high-energy, and it’s a really fun group to be around. It makes every practice really fun,” Huberty said. “… To be back is really special. Our motto last year was to leave it all on the court and be great. This wraps it all up.”