MOREHEAD STATE | Beach Volleyball in Eastern Kentucky Proves To Be A Unique Challenge

03/30/2017 11:59 AM

Morehead State is in their first season of beach volleyball.

“Being a beach volleyball player in eastern Kentucky is not the easiest,” Junior Alli Evans explained. “We went down to Florida and we were playing in 70 and 75 degree weather, but before that we actually practiced in the snow. So we got some outdoor gear luckily and you know, we trained for it. You kind of don’t know what you’re going to get from Kentucky weather.”

To create this new team, Morehead State took their indoor volleyball team, and told them they would now be playing year-round. Indoor in the fall and beach in the spring. As you can imagine, the players were somewhat shocked to hear they were taking their talents from the court to the sand.

“I think we all kind of went in, you know, it’s volleyball. You think that it’s going to be the same, but it actually has been a huge adjustment for us. A huge transition. So, you go from six players to two players. You go from playing indoor to having to worry about outdoor conditions and wind and everything so it’s definitely been adjustment,” Evans explained.

Besides the obvious difference of being on a beach (or sand) versus a court, there are other adjustments the team has had to make.

“I’m actually not allowed to coach and communicate with the players during play,” explained Jaime Gordon, the head coach for both the indoor and beach teams. “The only time that we’re able to give them any feedback is during time outs or during side switches, so that’s been an adjustment for me but also, I think, for our players as well because they’re used to be being on the sidelines and feeding them a lot of information.”

For the team, this change hasn’t come easily. They’re 1-13 to start the season.

“That first weekend- and we played against two top-15 teams, so these were players that have been playing beach their whole lives, have a real familiarity with it. Our players struggled with that. They’ve never been this bad at anything and recognizing that the games are very different and here are some of the skill sets that I need in order to be successful in this game, I think took a little while but by the end of the week you know it was really able to show and you saw it out on the court,” Gordon told Spectrum News.

The team believes playing beach will pay dividends when indoor comes back around- from improved communication to versatility. Evans normally plays outside hitter, but in beach volleyball there is no such thing.

“In beach there’s not really a specific type of player. You’ve kind of got to do it all, so you’ve got to pass, set and hit. So it does work on your versatility and I think that will help with our ball control in indoor as well,” said Evans.

Coach Gordon agreed.

“In beach you’ve got one other teammate that you’re working with, so the communication is so critical and you normally rely on a full team when you’re struggling a little bit to kind of pick you up. Now you just have that one other person and so those ties really come that much more important and that much stronger too.”

The Lady Eagles are the only collegiate beach volleyball team in the state of Kentucky and none of the players had any prior beach experience outside of recreation before the season. They secured the first win in program history with a 4-1 win over Huntingdon on Saturday. Friday, they head to their closest tournament they’ll have all year at Austin Peay University where they will face UAB, Louisiana Monroe, UT Martin and Austin Peay Friday and Saturday in the Governor Beach Bash Tournament.


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