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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Playing in the sand

    Former Wildcat Audrey Bockerstette, left,  positions herself as UA opposite hitter Randy Goodenough jumps to swat the ball at the Tucson Racquet Club. Wildcat head coach David Rubio said hes all for the addition of sand volleyball unless it takes from his teams indoor competition.
    Former Wildcat Audrey Bockerstette, left, positions herself as UA opposite hitter Randy Goodenough jumps to swat the ball at the Tucson Racquet Club. Wildcat head coach David Rubio said he’s all for the addition of sand volleyball unless it takes from his team’s indoor competition.

    The idea of bikini-clad women playing volleyball in the sand has recently caused a swell of stimulation in the minds of many.

    Get your mind out of the gutter.

    Sand, or beach, volleyball could be the newest sport at Arizona – and at all NCAA schools, for that matter.

    Most of the UA players are involved in or have at least tried playing in the sand, but that hasn’t always been the case.

    After Misty May-Trenor and Kerry Walsh, the American sand volleyball duo, won the gold in the 2004 Olympics, the Association of Volleyball Professionals recorded a 48 percent increase in the number of fans – but keep in mind that the effect of this summer’s recurrence of gold in Beijing hasn’t been accounted for yet.

    The duo must have had some sort of an impact, because the Committee on Women’s Athletics suggested that the three NCAA divisions add the game to the “”emerging sports for women”” list. Division II gave the thumbs-up, but Division III declined.

    If Division I agrees in next month’s meeting, the NCAA membership will make the final vote in January.

    “”The influence of the Olympics have been huge,”” said UA sophomore Stephanie Snow. “”I think if it wasn’t for Misty and Kerry Walsh winning the gold (in 2004) and then winning it again this year, no one would have really paid much attention to (sand volleyball). It’s completely turned around, and I think that’s why they’re considering it to be a sport now.””

    As the technicalities of bringing sand to the NCAA bounce around in the heads of authorities, the current UA volleyball squad continues to get pumped up about the idea.

    “”I would love it if sand was added because it would be interesting to watch and it would be so fun to play,”” Snow said. “”If it were possible to play both (indoor and sand), I would be so down. I’d do it for sure.””

    Ten of the 17 teammates on UA’s lineup are from the sunny state of California, where beach volleyball is considered to be a way of life.

    “”I think that would be awesome,”” said junior Alanna Resch. “”I’m from San Diego and I love going to the beach and playing. If it was available in the spring season, I would definitely try out for it.””

    Though court and sand both fall under the volleyball category, they have many differences.

    “”I think (sand) is a lot harder physically,”” said sophomore Danielle Holloway. “”I mean you’re running, jumping and moving in the sand. It’s a lot more difficult, and different, than on the court.””

    There are six players on either side of the net in the court version. For games in the sand, there are often two players on a team, more commonly called “”doubles.””

    Since doubles limits the numbers of players at a time, the NCAA has toyed with the thought of making the game more team-oriented, and possibly having four to six players per side.

    Though many are excited about the possible new addition, that specific idea didn’t sit well with everyone.

    “”I don’t like playing beach when there’s more than two people; it just seems a little chaotic and I like it more when you just have one partner,”” Resch said. “”I probably wouldn’t play (with six). I don’t really have a good reason, I just like doubles better. To me, (six-on-six) kind of seems like you’re trying to play a game at a picnic with your parents or something.””

    A matter much larger than the number of players per side has lingered in the busy head of UA head coach David Rubio, despite the excited feedback of his players.

    The American Volleyball Coaches Administration may try to give the players a chance to have more of a student-athlete type of life by completely eliminating any off-season competition and training for volleyball, Rubio said.

    “”They may think that we’re training too much in the team sports – we don’t feel that way of course – but it’s really not my decision,”” Rubio said. “”And if that’s the case, then I’m all for sand volleyball, because then we would compete in our offseason. But if it takes away from the indoor game, I’m not really excited about that possibility.””

    Some say yes, others say no. But one thing is for certain: you can always count on someone to stand on the middle ground. This someone happens to be the team’s starting outside hitter.

    “”I think I’m kind of indifferent,”” Whitney Dosty said of the possible new sport. “”I never grew up with sand volleyball.””

    That’s not saying much, considering the fact that she’s only on her fourth year of even touching a volleyball, and she’s on the starting lineup at a Pacific 10 Conference school.

    “”I’m so involved with indoor volleyball right now, but maybe it could be something I might try,”” Dosty said. “”In the offseason, it could be really cool. I mean, I haven’t had that much experience with it.

    The squad held training practices on the Tucson Racquet Club’s sand courts last spring.

    Despite her natural athleticism, Dosty was given a run for her money in the morning sessions.

    “”We’d go (to the TRC) once every week for practice,”” Dosty said. “”It was the first time I had ever played, and I didn’t realize it, but sand is actually pretty difficult. But it was fun.””

    Snow agreed with her teammate. At the same time, she said that it’s been hard to play sand volleyball on top of the regular fall season. She said the addition could encourage players to develop their skills now instead of waiting until their collegiate career is over.

    “”My sand game isn’t nearly as good as my indoor, but it’s something I’d like to get better at,”” Snow said. “”But that’s hard to do, especially because there’s no professional volleyball here indoor. If you want to go professional, then you play in AVP (tours) or you go to Europe to play indoor.””

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