By Ana Braccialli
Spring semester is here, which means beach volleyball season is ready to take off. Last year, during their first season ever, the team ended up with a record of 14-10.
“Last year was honestly better than what I had imagined we would have done in year one,” said Jeff Lamm, head coach. “This year I chose to schedule tough [teams] to show our current roster and future recruits that we want to play the best competition we can.”
In order to compete with high-level teams, the beach volleyball ladies are practicing, lifting and conditioning every day. However, techniques and muscles are not the only things they are focusing on this season.
“The sand takes a toll on you physically but also equal parts mentally,” said Taylor George, sophomore. “We are continuing our yoga and meditation; adding some outside help to allow us to be the most successful we can be with the abilities we have.”
Last season, nine indoor players were crossing over with the beach team. This season, they recruited 14 new beach volleyball players in an aim to help the Spartans further their success.
“This season our beach only kids were able to play in a couple fall events and now that we have added back some of the crossover kids with a year of experience we have been able to focus more on game strategies more than last season at this point,” said Coach Lamm.
With only one year of experience, the only division I team at UT is going to be playing top tier schools, such as LSU and Florida State.
“Playing those teams, we can see where we stand nationally and I think our goal will always be to be as successful as possible and hopefully win a national championship,” said Katie McKiel, junior.
Even though they are a fresh team, the dream of becoming a nationally recognized competitor has been in their heads since day one.
“I don’t feel the pressure to win from the administration, but I do put pressure on myself to develop this program into a nationally relevant program,” said Coach Lamm.
Last season the Spartans ended up in 4th in the AVCA Small College Championship. According to Coach Lamm, they hope to play in the finals and potentially win it this time.
This season 18 of the 28 scheduled matches are against Division I schools,with 10 of the schools falling in the top 20 rankings.
“This seasons mentality is to compete with [energy] no matter who’s on the other side of the net,” said George. “Our goal is to play our game and even if we don’t succeed, we want to compete and learn from every game.”
The Spartans will play their first tournament of the season on February 23rd, at the Florida State Tournament at Tallahassee. They will be playing against Tulane, South Carolina, Cal Poly and Florida State.
Ana Braccialli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org