Santa Clara volleyball begins play in the sand this weekend at University of the Pacific in its first sand match of the season. SCU will play at host Pacific at 9 am on Sat., March 8 and then play San Jose State at 12 pm. SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCU) sat down with head coach Jon Wallace to talk about the first tournament of the year and to find out what sand scoring is all about.
SCU: You guys start this weekend and your team has been training really hard. Talk a little about what your hopes are for the weekend.
JW: We open up with UOP on their new facility out there. They have three gorgeous courts. We're thrilled to be going out there and playing them. We will play two matches in, which will be great for us. We need the playing time, and I like the competition.
Our girls have been working really hard. We've spent a lot more time focusing on sand this off-season. We've actually started back in January building a foundation for our girls in terms of training and developing teams. And we're really pleased with where we're at from a year ago. We really grew a lot. We've gained a lot of confidence and knowledge about the sand and I'm really happy with how serious our girls are taking it. I am looking forward to this weekend – to watch them go compete. It's going to be fun.
SCU: Talk a little bit about how they score sand and how they put together sand. You don't play six on six, you play as pairs, right?
JW: We have five teams of two and we number them one through five. The one's are your best team and they'll play against UOP's best team and so forth. The goal is to get three wins. If you get three wins, then you'll win the dual tournament. We're still working out the order. We'll know it by Friday what exactly order we'll go into for Saturday. But we've got great competition from our top girls, Taylor Milton, Nikki Hess, Sabrina Clayton and Danielle Rottman. They're going to either be one or be two so those four girls are the top and are doing a great job and they look pretty good.
SCU: Did most of your girls play sand prior to coming to college?
JW: Not too many of our girls have played sand. Of the 14 girls that we have on the sand right now, probably only seven have played much sand before coming to college. Some have not, like Mary Shepherd or Katrina Inch have not, but they're really getting better every day and I can see those two girls competing even better in two weeks and maybe even making uh, you know, a top five team.
SCU: Do you have goals for this weekend?
JW: The goals that we have for sand are the same that we have for indoor volleyball. Reflecting back to our core values, how we want to play, how we wat to act, and how do we want to behave - those are the same goals. We want to compete, we want to be mentally tough, we want to play together. Our goals are the same in terms of how we want to play and how we approach it, and so that's where we start. We want to get two wins, for sure, and hopefully the process will lead us to getting that done.