Stevenson University’s inaugural sand volleyball season is officially underway. According to Dave Trumbo, head coach of the women’s indoor and sand volleyball teams, the team is “doing fantastic” and making history as one of two Division III schools in the country that the sport.
“There are so many differences between sand and indoor but as we’re transitioning between the two sports, we are all noticing how much better and quicker we are [when playing] indoor because of the skills we are gaining on the sand,” mentions junior Kristen Brooks. She competes with graduate student Samantha Perillo at No. 1 spot for the Mustangs.
In recent contests, the Mustangs have traveled to Florida and North Carolina to face Division I and II programs. Transitioning from indoor to sand volleyball was a challenge for the players; despite hardships, the women have competed at a high level and made history in the process.
On March 19, Brooks & Perillo, Annika Schwartz & Megan Hren (No. 2), and Sara Bollinger & Lauren Weaver (No. 3) won their fifth-ever game by a score of 3-0 against St. Thomas University (Fla.). In a match against Warner University (Fla.), Bollinger & Weaver and Katie McGuire & Deanna Bradbury (No. 4) were edged 3-2 on March 18, according to GoMustangSports.
Despite losses against Carson-Newman University and Eckerd College, the Mustangs agreed they learned many lessons from the experience. Players even mentioned that these opponents were encouraging toward Stevenson’s sand volleyball program, as both institutions recently instated their own sand teams as well.
In early April, the team traveled to Wilmington, N.C. to compete in a tournament against Winthrop, Coastal Carolina, and UNC-Wilmington universities. Despite the losses, the team came together and embraced the opportunity to play on Stevenson’s first ever sand volleyball team. Junior Sara Bollinger says: “A few players were missing, therefore we had to switch up partners.”
Despite Stevenson being the only Division III team at the tournament, Bollinger is proud of her team and the constant improvement as they continue to win sets against Division I and II programs. “I think this proves the outstanding progress we are making,” said Bollinger.
“[This program] is amazing because we are bonding and growing together as a team,” mentioned Brooks.
The team must play a total of eight competitive dates against other NCAA schools to be considered an official varsity team. The Mustangs are in the process of achieving this status, having played in the Siesta Key Tournament in early March, five matches over spring break, and two games at UNC-Wilmington on April 2.
The team will have its first home games against Carson-Newman, Lincoln Memorial and Rutgers-Newark April 23 and 24 on the new sand volleyball courts adjacent to Mustang Stadium.