Beach Volleyball sets sights high for the future

Sports

Sand in their toes, music flowing in the background, and the surf splashing a few yards away. The setting is nothing like the sweaty, echoing gym that the volleyball players are used to.

For the first time ever, Piedmont students are able to represent their school and play beach volleyball against other Bay Area schools. Sophomores Jace Porter and Colby Francis are the co-presidents for the new team since it is not yet a Varsity sport, and instead counts as a club through ASB, Porter said.

Porter said she and Francis are the only ones on the team to have any beach volleyball experience prior to this year. Porter started playing volleyball in middle school and began to play beach volleyball in the summer going into high school and has played off and on since then.

“[Francis] and I went to this [beach volleyball] tournament just to play and there was this guy there trying to recruit people saying, ‘you should bring [beach volleyball] to your high school,’” Porter said. “We got the flyer and we didn’t think much of it. But then we started talking about how cool that would be to start a beach volleyball club.”

Francis said that her and Porter’s coach for their club team called Sandlegs, was on board with the idea as well.

“Our coach Simone wanted [Porter] and I to start the club at Piedmont because a few other Bay Area schools were thinking about starting one, and she thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce the sport to people at our school,” Francis said. “Beach volleyball is really popular in [Southern California] and we want to start bringing it to Northern California to make it a statewide sport.”

Francis and Porter then talked to their high school volleyball coach, Alison West, who also happens to be the assistant athletic director, to see if creating a team was even viable.

“West was totally supportive,” Porter said. “So then I just filled out the club forms to make the whole thing official with the school clubs.”

The team consists of about six to eight players, depending on who is available on any given day. All of the players are from the regular volleyball program, but the ages range from freshman to senior, said senior Claire deVroede, who is the sole senior on the team.

“We practice once a week at Alameda Beach and we have a total of  three or four tournaments,” junior Olivia Theut said. “It is three months long, so it’s not that much of a commitment, which I really like.”

There are a ton of other differences between regular volleyball and the new club volleyball besides the commitment, Theut said, such as the difference of switching up the partners.

“It’s a lot harder [than regular volleyball] because there are the elements, like the sun and the winds,” Theut said. “The wind is just so strong that it affects how you have to play and make decisions.”

In beach volleyball, since there are only two players on the court, you have to learn how to play all of the positions, so it can be a lot harder than indoor volleyball, deVroede said.

“It’s really good for people who want to play regular club volleyball, because they just get all these touches and you get to set and pass so I think it makes you a more well rounded volleyball player,” deVroede said.

Francis agreed with Theut and deVroede and said that it can be hard to go from regular volleyball to beach volleyball.

“Our school club is different than [Sandlegs] because in school, we are just introducing the sport, and it takes a lot of practice to get used to the shift from court to sand,” Francis said.

Porter also said that what she likes about beach volleyball is that it is a lot more relaxed than indoor volleyball.

“You’re playing a sport you love on the beach,” Porter said. “People aren’t too competitive. Parents aren’t yelling at you all the time. There’s always music in the background. If you get too hot, you go in the ocean. It’s so chill.”

So far, the team has had two tournaments, with the most recent one occurring two weekends ago, Francis said.

“Our team is doing really well,” Francis said. “We placed second behind Acalanes at our first tournament.”

Porter said that hopefully they will be able to grow the program over the next couple of years since a lot of other schools, including Bishop O’Dowd, have beach volleyball teams already.

“So our hope is that if this year goes well, next year we could get more recruits and then make it a varsity sports my senior year,” Porter said.