Beach Volleyball has found its way to UNA and the school is preparing for the debut season.
The construction is set to begin in August or September, with the area already staked off. In June, the university decided beach volleyball courts would be built at Cox Creek Park this fall.
Beach volleyball is one of the two new sports added to UNA’s increased list of athletics in 2018, alongside women’s golf.
Eleven athletes from the indoor volleyball team will be competing on the sand. Newly hired head coach, Bob White, and recruiting coordinator, Haley Doerfler, will coach the athletes.
Beach volleyball and indoor volleyball are sports with similar mechanics but completely different applications. Indoor volleyball consists of six players on two teams on opposite ends of a hardwood court. In beach volleyball five groups of two players represent each side for two versus two matchups on a sand court.
“They’re two very different games, the only thing they have in common is the word volleyball,” White said.
White compared the sport to tennis based on the aspect of teamwork. He says a lot of the work is determining who is on what team and deciding who will be substitutions that game. The first ranked pair will play the opposing first ranked pair, the second pair will play the second pair and so on.
“Your number one is gonna play their number one,” White said. “Your number two is gonna play their number two. It’s an integrity piece because the coaches are expected to play their best against your best, their second best against your second best and so on down the line. You spend an enormous amount of time in practice just in competition between your teams to figure out who is number one. We have a lot more drill work in indoor compared to competition in beach.”
Athletes going into this sport have to be prepared in a different way compared to indoor volleyball. Running on the sand not only feels different, it puts a different type of strain on the athletes.
“With playing in the sand, you have to be a lot stronger,” said junior Kristen Hayes. “You have to go through potentially mounds of sand that you can sink into rather than the hardwood where you’re always on top and don’t have to worry about different depths and varying holes.”
In addition to the sand, players have to contend with two more changes; team size and weather. Adjusting to playing with one other person instead of five, unpredictable weather and a new terrain gives the game an entirely different feel.
“I don’t think it’ll be too much of a challenge other than getting used to the weather and moving in the sand,” said senior Jayden Davila-McClary. “Having partners and playing doubles, you have to really rely on just that one person. It’s a lot of chemistry we have to build.”