TAFT - November 15, 2019 and February 19, 2020. Those are the dates the Taft College women's volleyball and women's basketball squads were last on the court facing live competition as a team. On Friday, the Cougars' over year-long absence from action finally came to an end.
The women's volleyball team got off to a great start, sweeping a road match at Antelope Valley on Friday before coming home to beat AVC in straight sets and Cuesta, 3-2 on Saturday. The women's basketball team hosted AVC on Friday, falling 48-31, before losing on the road at the Marauders on Saturday.
The Cougars volleyball team is scheduled to play 12 matches over six weeks this season and will also face Bakersfield College, Cerro Coso College, and College of the Sequoias in non-conference action.
Taft College athletic director and women's volleyball head coach Kanoe Bandy is excited to finally get her teams back in action.
"We have worked so hard to get our student athletes back on the court," said Bandy. "It's hard to believe that the day has finally arrived. The student-athletes are very anxious to play."
The women's basketball team, under new head coach Daniel Nelms, will also hit the hardwood for the first time on Friday. The Cougars host Antelope Valley at 3 p.m. in both teams' season-opener. Taft will hit the road the next day, heading to Lancaster for a 1 p.m. game at AVC on Saturday.
The Cougars are currently scheduled for an abbreviated eight-game hoops season. TC will take on Cuesta, Bakersfield, Allan Hancock College, and Sequoias in non-conference action.
Volleyball and basketball join the Taft women's golf team that has been in action since mid-February. Under the direction of head coach Chad Sorenson, the Cougars are already five events deep into their 2021 spring season. They are slated to compete in a 12-event schedule, which includes the Northern California Regional Championship tourney set for April 12-13.
The chance of athletic competition taking place at the community college level during the 2020-21 season because of state regulations and guidelines seemed bleak, but thanks to perseverance at the college, Bandy envisioned a return to action sooner than others.
"I have been very optimistic that we would be able to compete at some level," said Bandy. "We have support from our administration, who have trusted us to do everything we can to keep our student-athletes and coaches safe. Once we were able to secure COVID-19 testing for our programs, we knew we were close to being able to compete.
"We will follow the Institute of Higher Education, state, county and Taft College protocols which require continued testing."
Part of those safety protocol will be the absence of spectators in the stands. In response, Taft College Athletics has partnered with Blue Frame Technology to live stream its home volleyball and basketball games for free this season.
Streams will be available for viewing at the athletics website (athletics.taftcollege.edu) and at https://www.team1sports.com/TaftCA/.
(Chris Ruiz, Central Valley Conference)