In the realm of intramurals, one sport reigns supreme. While others simply kick a ball or toss a frisbee around, these individuals put their bodies on the line for glory. When the dust settles after every game, only three things remain: blood, sweat and sand.
Intramural sand volleyball is the cornerstone of intramural fall sports. Whether it’s a team led by an RA trying to get their residents to bond together, or a group of longtime friends wanting one last run at a championship, sand volleyball at UT has been a tradition all its own.
However, with construction for the new fitness center underway, the sand volleyball courts near McNiff were removed. Now the single court outside of McKay is being used for 20 teams and 217 players registered to hit the sand this fall.
But with this new venue also came new changes. This season, games would only be played on Sundays from 10:45 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. The schedule itself was made without the input of the teams involved, causing many teams to struggle to get their players on the court come game day thanks to job and club priorities. But another obligation that has caused many players to miss their games at McKay this year is Greek Life.
“I played last year, but haven’t been able to make it to a single game this year,” said Zoe Lorusso, sophomore captain of Volley My Balls and Alpha Chi Omega member. “I usually have sorority things on Sunday and, other than one girl, all the girls on our team are in my sorority and can’t play.”
Luckily for teams forced to forfeit from lack of players, there was no $20 forfeit deposit for the sport this year. In the past, teams would pay the forfeit deposit and then have it returned to them if they didn’t forfeit a match. Now, the only downside to forfeiting is a straight set loss. However, not all players believe that weekend obligations are the reason for this year’s forfeitures.
“I don’t think players aren’t showing up because it’s Sunday, I think the teams just aren’t taking volleyball seriously enough,” said Kent Stein, captain of Dat Ace Doe. “If you go through the effort of making a team then you should show up. At the end of the day, it’s all for fun, but a little competition never hurts.”
Despite the changes put in place, the competition of the league is still as intense as ever. Currently two weeks into the season, here’s a look at teams who are starting to “set” themselves apart from the competition.
I CAN DIG IT
Last year, the Intramural Champion t-shirt for sand volleyball was awarded to I Can Dig It, who is hoping to have a repeat season this year. However, the team lost three players to graduation and had an interesting offseason.
“After we had three seniors graduate last year, the rest of the team has gone their separate ways. As far as I Can Dig It is concerned, the key will be creating a strong unity with the new players and learning the fundamentals,” captain Katie Pennewill said. “I just want us to be successful. Success doesn’t mean winning games, it means going out and playing to the best of our ability.”
While they currently sit in the middle of the table at 1-1, Pennewill’s champion mentality and experience may lead the team to another title.
With a 2-0 record, Ball Busters have proven themselves worthy of the top spot in the league. Despite only having five members, the team is filled to the brim with intramural volleyball superstars. This is the first time captain sophomore Sarah Moore has stepped onto intramural sand, but she is coming off a third place victory in court volleyball last spring.
Also on the team is senior Chett Joffe, who captained a team to a 4-0 regular season record last year and has strong skill executing the ball this year, according to Moore. Another key factor for Ball Busters has been the hustle given by senior Josh Morrison, who was one of the aforementioned champions of I Can Dig It last year.
Rounding out the team is sophomore Thomas Nicholls, who has played in 19 UT intramural sports.
Also sitting at 2-0 is Cabrones, who squeezed out a victory over I Can Dig It in their first week, before dispatching Balls In Your Face this past Sunday. Captained by sophomore Karim Bakir, the seven-member squad is looking to make the next step toward the championship.
“Last year, our team was separated and competed against each other and we both reached the semi-finals,” said Bakir. “We have come together now and we all have volleyball experience before college and a few new additions this time around. We know we have to get past last year’s finalists, but I think we have a decent chance to win.”
Among those new additions is Natalia Yordan, who will be competing in her first game this Sunday after being sidelined by a back injury, and Taylor Ahmed, who is returning to the sand courts after playing last season with her RA and floormates.
WEEK THREE STORYLINES
With two weeks down, the slate of games for week three features many storylines that are sure to impress. The 11:30 a.m. clash between Ball Busters and Scared Hitless will be a matchup pitting Morrison against a former I Can Dig It teammate, senior Sophie Moskowitz.
How I Set Your Mother’s junior pair of Cody Liner and Lauren O’Hanneson, who have played sand volleyball together the past two years, will be looking to upset Cabrones this Sunday at 12:15 p.m.
But, the marquee matchup this week will be at 4 p.m. where TMNT takes on Dat Ace Doe in a showdown of unbeaten teams. TMNT will look to take advantage of a Dat Ace Doe squad that has yet to actually play an opponent this season, both their wins coming from forfeits.
The venue may be different, but the stakes have never been higher for these teams as they look to claim their championship t-shirts. With sand in their hair and determination in their eyes, these teams will make this season one to remember.