After almost a year of uncertainty and unique preparation, the Gamecocks women’s beach volleyball team hit the sand last weekend in DeLand, FL against top-ranked opponents at the Stetson Spring Fling tournament to start the new season.
The No.14 Gamecocks started with a 3-2 loss to No.12 Florida Atlantic. However, the Gamecocks later responded with a 4-1 victory over No.13 FIU. Graduate students Morgyn Greer and Carly Schnieder were 2-0 as a duo for the day, as did the pair of senior Jess Vastine and junior Jordan Smith.
Despite the 1-1 start on Saturday, head coach Moritz Moritz said he is glad the girls are competing again. "We're here to get better. We're here to compete. Let's get after it," Moritz said.
Much like Saturday's matchups, the final day of the tournament ended with a win and a loss.
The Gamecocks began with a 3-2 loss to No. 15 TCU. Despite losing the opening set, Greer and Schnieder rallied in sets two and three to give the Gamecocks an early 2-1 advantage.
However, the Gamecocks could not find a sensational moment for the win. The Horned Frogs rallied back in sets against graduate student Madison Brabham and freshman Hannah Mackenhausen.
The Gamecocks’ toughest opponent came in its final dual against No. 11 Stetson. Both teams entered the matchup 1-2 in search of an early-season advantage. Following a three-set victory from Brabham and Mackenhausen, junior Abby Carrol and freshman Alyssa Keller advanced the Gamecocks to a 3-1 win over the No. 11 Stetson Hatters.
"To have an opportunity to get to play the teams that we do when we do is giant," Moritz said.
Before last weekend, the Gamecocks had not played since March 8, 2020, when they suffered a 5-0 loss to Loyola Marymount at the LMU Invitational in Los Angeles. Later that week, on March 12, the NCAA canceled all remaining winter and spring championships.
“You never know how much you love something once you lose it,” sophomore Skylar Allen said. “Our circumstances brought us closer as a team.”
13 of South Carolina's 24 players are returning upperclassmen. No. 25 Greer said she believes is a tremendous asset and advantage for the team.
“The upperclassmen, with how many people we’re returning, we definitely have a leadership role for sure,” said Greer.
Greer and fellow graduate students No. 21 Brabham and No. 23 Schnieder had a crucial role in the team’s success last weekend. Though Brabham and Greer are in their second season at USC, this is their first full season on the sand.
While at Florida, Greer played four seasons on the indoor volleyball team. The Gators won 26 or more of the 54 matches Greer played in. Florida reached the National Semifinal in 2017 and the Sweet 16 in 2018 and 2019.
Before coming to South Carolina, Brabham had a standout career at Texas A&M-Kingsville, where she played indoor and beach volleyball. She ranks sixth in indoor volleyball program history for career kills with 1,184. Brabham helped lead the Javelina Beach Volleyball team to its 2018 championship victory.
Brabham said she conquered many challenges and difficulties during her time at Texas A&M-Kingsville. She said she believes her move to an SEC school and D-1 volleyball was “a huge shock to the system in a great way,” and that she is “extremely blessed.”
Schenieder is in her fifth season with the Gamecocks. During her time, she has had 66 career wins, which would make her sixth in program history.
The Gamecocks will be on the road again this weekend in Conway, South Carolina, where they will be playing in the Coastal Carolina Invitational, with a rematch against No. 11 Stetson.