Manchester University
Oak Leaves

October 2, 2020

liquid nitrogen

Players (from left to right) Mackenzie Rooks, Helaina Walters, Samantha Campbell and Lauren Gandhi celebrate an in-practice victory.

Photo provided by MU Athletics

Women’s Volleyball Team Takes to the Sand amid COVID ‘Pod Practicing’ 

Courtney Milzarek

What started out on solid ground now moved to a rougher terrain. The women’s volleyball team took a huge turn and started playing on sand. “Playing in sand is different, explains Dakota Goetz. “I have never played volleyball in the sand and most of the team hasn’t either.”

Moving in sand is not easy especially, if a player must move quickly. Goetz is a defensive specialist (DS) and jumping in sand to block can be difficult because of the moving and sinking sand. “When the team started playing in the sand, we all started learning how to work together,” Goetz adds. “It is helping us become patient with one another as we each learn how difficult this can be.”

It helps to learn how to play on sand when they are coached by someone who has experience playing professional beach volleyball. Coach Tyler has played in a professional league and is able to guide the team from his own experience. “It is really exciting and enjoyable to learn how to play,” Goetz said. “I have fun watching and learning alongside my team as we learn how to conquer this new playing ground.”

Not only has the ground changed, but the way the game is played has changed as well. The team was split into pods. If one pod gets sick due to the virus, the other pod will be able to practice or play. Also, instead of a six-person team that competes, it is now a two-person team. Because of the downsizing of the players on the court at a time, players become more focused and are more involved with the game. “There are only two people on the court,” Goetz said. “This makes me more aware and determined to get to the ball. This also causes me to be more focused on my platform and where I am on the court.”

Besides the number of players on the court, the rules for the game are altered as well. Goetz explains how rules are different when it comes to playing in the sand. “There are a lot of new rules to learn and get used to,” she said. “For example, if the ball is over our head, we can not go and set it like we usually would playing indoors. We have to be able to have a perfect set without putting spin on the ball. If there is spin, then we can get called on it.”

This only adds to the determination from this volleyball player. As many things are changing Goetz is enjoying her time and loves how difficult the game has become. It challenges her because it requires her to work twice as hard and she is up for this challenge.

Even though a lot has changed for this team, they still enjoy a good pump up session before practice or a game. While warming up or preparing for a game, they have a certain type of music to listen to. Tik Tok songs—played for the team by Coach Tyler on his speaker—seem to be the way to go as they prepare for the game or practice that lays ahead of them.