Ally Peterson thinks she might have been dealt a blessing in disguise.
Most freshmen have just a couple of months to get ready to roll before their first collegiate volleyball game. The COVID-19 pandemic took that away from Peterson. Belmont University and the rest of the volleyball teams in the Ohio Valley Conference aren't playing this fall.
But the former Kenyon-Wanamingo all-state hitter believes that extra time will be extremely beneficial when she and her Belmont teammates finally get to hit the floor.
“I feel like having to practice all semester and not having to play right away has been so awesome,” Peterson said. “We can get comfortable. We can get to know each other pretty well and know the system and everyone’s tendencies.”
For now, Peterson and her Belmont teammates are only allowed to practice and lift weights. They wear masks while lifting and once they’re allowed to play, they’ll don masks too.
It’s a weird time to be a college athlete. Belmont's volleyball season was pushed back to the spring, yet hundreds of football and basketball games are being played across the country.
“Our basketball team has been playing, so yeah, it kind of makes you frustrated that you don’t get to play too,” Peterson said. “We understand because it’s what our conference decided on. It’s not like some volleyball teams are playing, and we aren’t. We’re all in it together. As long as it’s the whole conference and not just our school, it makes it a little better. And for now, I get more time to get better.”
Belmont lists Peterson at 5-feet-10, but she’ll tell you she’s closer to 5-9. She was a missile-delivering outside hitter for Kenyon-Wanamingo, but she’ll likely be a defensive specialist early in her career at Belmont.
That’s her way to potentially get on the floor early and often, so she’s embraced the back row.
She had high hopes when she committed to Belmont, and even though multiple curveballs have been thrown her way, Peterson is still in love with her school.
“I didn’t expect COVID to come, but everything else has been pretty much what I expected,” Peterson said. “It’s exactly what I wanted.”
Belmont’s current season-opener is scheduled for Feb. 7 against Jacksonville State. When Peterson gets her chance, she’ll hope to represent southeastern Minnesota at the highest level.
“I think our leaders have been really accepting on the team,” Peterson said. “We aren’t treated as freshmen where we don’t know anything. Knowing that they trust us and they don’t see us as younger than them, it’s been really nice. They’ve really helped us make that transition into college volleyball. I really appreciate them.”
Peterson hasn’t really gotten the college experience yet. Most of her classes have been online. She’s not been able to make a ton of friends outside of volleyball because mingling in groups isn’t allowed.
But she said she’s in a good place mentally and she has started to show her chops and prove herself with her teammates. When they get a chance to play, Peterson will undoubtedly factor into the Belmont rotation.
Peterson’s blessing in disguise might pay off in a big way.
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