The Daily Gamecock

Sand volleyball to open inaugural season with trip to Florida State

Moritz hopes to expand new sport beyond South Carolina campus

On March 21, a brand new sport was added to South Carolina’s list of varsity teams. And when it kicks off its inaugural season Saturday, the match won’t happen on grass, a court, a track or in a pool but in the sand.

Sand volleyball coach Moritz Moritz, who was previously the assistant head coach for the school’s indoor volleyball team, saw only positives to be gained by stepping into the head-coaching role for the new sport.

“I saw it as a huge opportunity to build something from the ground up, not just here at South Carolina, but the sport on the collegiate level,” Moritz said. “The sport is only a couple years old, and it’s a unique opportunity to develop a program, and there’s no better place to do it than South Carolina. The support from the school and Columbia has been great.”

Freshman Jade Vitt was also very excited to take part in the Gamecocks’ first season in the sand.
“I’ve been playing (volleyball) the past four years, and I love how different it is from the indoor game,” Vitt said. “And I also love being outside.”

Since the sport is fairly new, few colleges have added it to their lists of varsity teams, but South Carolina will still go up against some of the sport’s top competition.

“We don’t have a conference yet, but we were the first SEC school to add the sport, and LSU followed just recently. We’re hoping other (SEC) schools add soon so that we can compete for a National Championship, as well as a conference championship,” Moritz said. “We’re very fortunate to be able to compete against teams like College of Charleston, UAB, LSU, Louisiana Monroe and Florida State. The scheduling process is open-ended.”

A testament to the uncertainty of the uncharted waters that are scheduling a sand volleyball season, South Carolina’s only matches listed on its online schedule fall in Saturday’s opening meet.
In the first season of the sport’s existence, it’s hard to gauge how successful the team will be, but Moritz said the main goal is to build and get better each day.

“Since we’ve never competed against anyone, it’s kind of hard to say where we’re at as a program. It’s not fair to put us at any certain place right away. We do present a unique challenge since no teams really know what to expect from us,” Moritz said. “We have amazing potential from the indoor program to our outdoor program, and this Saturday will be a big indicator when we travel to Florida to compete in an exhibition and see how we compare with other programs. It’s going to be fun to see how we compare from now to the start of the season in March.”

The Gamecocks will face their first real competition as they travel down to Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday to take on Florida State and Georgia State.

With no history to draw on and a vast array of possibilities before the South Carolina sand volleyball program, Vitt said her aspirations mirror her coach’s.

“A goal of ours would be to make the National Championship in Gulf Shores, but our overall goal is to establish a really great program,” Vitt said. “This Saturday, we can really show what we can bring to the table as a new program since schools don’t know what to expect from us. Hopefully this is the start of a good program.”


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