Haley Salvador / The Daily Gamecock

South Carolina beach volleyball looks to sustain success

The South Carolina beach volleyball team is looking ahead at opportunities to continue to improve as it approaches the second half of its season.

The Gamecocks defeated Coastal Carolina on Wednesday to improve their overall record to 12-6. The team has been victorious against nine of the last 10 teams it has faced, and is ranked No. 11 in the country. 

Looking back, junior Katie Smith notes the chemistry of the team as a reason for its success throughout the first half of the season.

“I think the beauty of this team is there’s 18 girls," Smith said. “We all feel really comfortable with each other, so I think we can go to anyone at any given moment."

Smith’s partner, graduate student Lydia Dimke, has played several years of D1 volleyball, but said she relies on her "awesome teammates and coaches for the beach advice."

Smith and Dimke have been an integral part of the team’s success. Their dual record is 14-4, which is the highest number of wins on the team. In a video from Monday on the South Carolina Gamecocks Facebook page, head coach Moritz Moritz named the duo players of the week. 

Another duo to look out for is graduate student Cadie Bates and senior Shannon Williams. With a record of 12-6, they have the second highest number of wins and contributed to the overall team win against Coastal Carolina on Wednesday night. 

Despite recent wins, the team had a couple of tough losses against teams like No. 12 Stetson, No. 5 Florida State and No. 18 Florida Atlantic University. 

Smith said the team needs to learn from the losses and "build off that so we can celebrate our wins and focus on our next opponent."

Moritz also spoke on how the team can use the past to improve its record for the rest of the season. 

“I think it’s, for us, the daily process is how are we gonna improve,” Moritz said. "We’ve kinda been in a slow period the last couple weeks, not playing as many matches as we’re used to, so we're kinda building momentum back.”

Moritz is proud of the team's recent wins, but spoke critically about what they could do differently.  

“Really being able to check back in and make that sure we’re executing the way that we need to was kinda crucial for us, especially transitioning into the opponents we have coming up," Moritz said. "So, it was a good step forward for us, but there’s definitely room for improvement.”

The Gamecocks will travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana on April 6 for the LSU Beach Invitational. Among the teams at the LSU Beach Invitational, the Gamecocks look to take on the LSU Tigers for the third time this year. 

Mortiz is looking forward to yet another challenge from LSU. 

“It’s always hard to beat one team one time and it’s definitely tough to beat a good team two times," Moritz said.

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