Sand volleyball teams meet high expectations


Eliza Gifford

Senior Ellie Jiang sets up a serve in her march against Reynolds on April 6. As one of the only two seniors on the team, Jiang offers advice to the rest of the players on how to truly enjoy sand volleyball and stresses the importance of having fun

Keira Funes-Torres, Photo Editor

The Reagan sand volleyball team is hitting the sand and nets again with big goals and expectations after finishing second in the 2021 North Carolina High School Sand Volleyball Association season.

One of the main goals this year for both the men’s and women’s teams is to make the state championship again. The players and coaches both stress how building the players’ connection with each other is important to the success of the teams.

“As a team goal, we obviously would like to win against the other schools,” said sophomore player Jamison Bell. “Most importantly is to become close with the teammates to support each other both on and off the court.”

Each goal comes with a challenge for these teams. In sand volleyball, there are only partners on the court, and with many new players being introduced to the team this season, there a lot of new chemistry needs to develop.

During the first few practices, head coach Douglas Balser would watch the players as they went through multiple pairs and then would pick partners based on how they play together and how they could learn from each other on and off the court.

“One challenge we knew we were going to have is that we were starting basically brand new,” Balser said. “The key is to have sets of partners who already had chemistry, but this year we started brand new.”

The partners to look out for this season are freshman Adelaide Schultz and senior Ellie Jiang. Shultz is a first-year player for the team, though she has three years of past experience from other club organizations. She plays for the indoor volleyball team at Reagan as well. She wishes to continue playing for both volleyball teams throughout her high school career.

“Jiang is a very understanding person and helped me adapt to the team which I am thankful for,” Schultz said. “As being partners with Jiang put me in the spotlight, I am just really grateful for her and the opportunity.”

Jiang played sand volleyball for three years of high school with a break due to COVID-19. She is the only returning player that was a part of the top eight players from last year’s season. She does not plan to continue playing sand volleyball in college to focus more on her academics.

“It is pretty exciting to be moving on, but at the same time really sad because I really enjoy playing sand volleyball and being at Reagan,” Jiang said. As one of the only two seniors on the team, she offers her advice to the rest of the players on how to truly enjoy sand volleyball while demonstrating the fun atmosphere the teams have.

“I would say to the players as they continue playing sand volleyball to continue playing for fun and because you like the sport,” Jiang said. “Don’t play just to win. Winning can be fun, but it is a lot better when you are with your friends out on the sand hanging out.”

With new players and high expectations, everyone has high hopes for this year’s season and the chemistry between each partner. As the season evolves, the team is growing stronger and closer with each other and can’t wait to see how the season goes.

“Last year we had some magnificent players that are now unfortunately gone,” said sophomore player Paige Grimes. “I do think that if we can set our minds to it, we can accomplish it. It’s not about how good the players are. It is about finding the opponents weakness and striking.”