The Daily Gamecock

Sand volleyball team taking shape

Developing club will start practice in mid-September

For Moritz Moritz, there could not be a more perfect time to be developing a sand volleyball team.

With the immense success of the sport in the recent Summer Olympics, interest has never been higher.

That’s one of the reasons why Moritz was excited when he was named the coach of South Carolina’s 21st varsity sport. Moritz has spent the summer developing the program and says it is still on track to be up and ready to go in the spring. He said that Scott Swanson, USC’s head indoor volleyball coach, initially planted the seed for the sand volleyball team. Moritz was an assistant to
Swanson for the past two years, so the two have been planning this for some time.

“It’s such an incredible opportunity to build something from the ground up,” Moritz said. “With the timing kind of coinciding with the 2012 Summer Olympics and the success that (USA) had with beach volleyball there, there was just such good visibility and the growth of the sport itself is amazing. It’s just one of those no-brainer situations.”

Moritz brought up the popularity of volleyball in high schools and youth leagues and says there has been no shortage of interest in the sand team. Moritz said he currently has eight players on the roster and plans to add more before the season starts. Moritz said by 2014 he would like to be training between 14-16 beach-only student-athletes year-round before.

By the time the team starts play in March, Moritz said he would like a roster size of 20-24 players, though there are only five scholarships available for the team this season. Moritz is expected to have help from some current indoor volleyball players this spring because their season with
Swanson will have already wrapped up.

Training for the inaugural season is expected to begin in mid-September.

Moritz said that a “skeleton” of a playing schedule is starting to be formed, but it is difficult because sand volleyball is a relatively new sport among colleges, with USC being just the 31st school to add sand volleyball as a sport.

“The very interesting thing that we’re starting to learn is that there are schools that will be potentially adding programs up until February of next year,” Moritz said. “We’re trying to figure out how those teams are scheduling and integrating and whether there is a potential for another SEC school to add the sport. We need to get them into the fold.”

LSU is currently the only other SEC school planning to offer sand volleyball.

Construction of the new sand volleyball facility is underway now and while the surplus of rain this summer has slowed things a bit, it is still on schedule to be completed. The facility will be located in the Athletics Village next to the tennis courts and soccer practice fields and will have five sand courts.

“Everything you need is right here,” Moritz said. “We’re very fortunate for that.”

The transition to sand volleyball has been “weird” for Moritz. Usually around this time of year,
Moritz is out on the court preparing for the indoor volleyball season.

“I’m used to being in two-a-days right now,” Moritz said. “The transition is definitely a little different but when you kind of take note of what I’ve been able to do over the summer in preparation to build this program, it’s one of those things where it’s like, ‘Here it is.’ It’s such an amazing opportunity that you’re so focused on making it the best that you can possibly make it.”


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