Molly Phillips’ past hurrah as a Texas pupil-athlete won’t be performed in the familiarity of Gregory Gym but relatively on the sand.
Following announcing that Texas would add beach front volleyball as its 21st varsity method and 12th women’s sport in 2023, longtime UT volleyball head coach Jerritt Elliott, who is overseeing the plan in the interim, decided that the most effective way to technique the inaugural period was to have assistant Erik Sullivan mentor the spring volleyball roster to play in a 14-match shortened period. The initial match is in March.
Though Sullivan’s résumé contains skilled encounter in indoor volleyball as an Olympian and beach front volleyball as component of the Four-Male Volleyball Beach front Tour, he is not Texas’ long-expression solution as head seaside volleyball coach. Right after the time wraps up in Fort Value at the conclude of March, the reins will be handed on to whomever UT athletic director Chris Del Conte hires.
Texas hopes this will assistance, not damage, fall volleyball
There isn’t really a head mentor. The group is functioning out on the sand courts at Whitaker Sporting activities Intricate. There just isn’t a beach volleyball roster still on UT’s web page even though there is a routine. Texas just isn’t scheduled to host any matches. The Longhorns’ period opens March 10 in Honolulu, towards host Hawaii as part of the Queens Cup event on Queens Beach.
Texas also has scheduled matches there in opposition to Oregon, Nebraska, Cal and Washington that weekend, then an additional match with Hawaii the following Tuesday, followed by a 4-match weekend in Long Seashore, Calif. The year concludes on the final weekend of March with 4 matches in Fort Truly worth.
Although Texas is hopping on the seaside volleyball bandwagon to enhance its present blue-blood indoor plan and take part in a person of the swiftest-rising women’s sporting activities in the NCAA, this inaugural season offers a one of a kind opportunity for Texas’ present volleyball team to develop into additional effectively-rounded athletes.
Sullivan explained he doesn’t believe the hybrid training program — a few weeks on the sand, two weeks off it — won’t hinder Texas’ quest for repeat countrywide championship this tumble on the court, but instead clean up aspects these kinds of as the sacred serve-and-go game.
“The indoor game has turn out to be so specialised,” Sullivan stated. “You have a middle blocker that definitely only plays at the net for 3 rotations. You have compact gamers that participate in in the back again row and don’t actually assault. (Seashore volleyball) forces you to do anything.”
In contrast to traditional volleyball, wherever there is usually only 1 participant that can engage in all 6 rotations, there are no substitutions or even positions in seaside volleyball, where groups are composed of two athletes that serve, go, dig and assault. Opposing faculties sq. up in 5 simultaneous matches, composed of three sets performed to 21 points that have to be won by two.
Transitioning from wood to sand
In spite of Elliott and Sullivan preparing on this period currently being transitionary, with the eventual seashore coaching team commencing to recruit sand-particular gamers to the plan this May well, Phillips is itching to place her versatility to excellent use.
“I’m excited to see what we can do,” Phillips stated. “Being equipped to break that up and do something that’s also heading to help our indoor instruction is really remarkable and some thing that we’re pleased that we’re performing.”
Phillips, in her four years with Texas volleyball, was dubbed “the surgeon” by Elliott for her hitting precision taking part in the suitable side. For opposing groups, she was usually referred to as an X-factor that could take over in kills or blocks during any specified match.
As an reverse hitter, Phillips is likely to emerge as the encounter of Texas’ seaside volleyball application as an all-all over participant with made sand legs and the practical experience to share with her teammates.
Placing expectations for the very first 12 months
On the sand, Texas volleyball is an unidentified. But on the court docket, the Longhorns are coming off a national championship period — their initially title because 2012 — but have been a single of college or university volleyball’s elite courses, owning manufactured just one run of 5 consecutive Ultimate Fours. Texas’ acquire in excess of Louisville in the NCAA championship match in December was the program’s sixth title match visual appeal beneath Elliott.
Phillips, one particular of Elliott’s key gamers, didn’t mature up soaking up the sunshine actively playing seashore volleyball in Mansfield. Fairly, she started taking part in it as a usually means to train. Her Mansfield Significant volleyball coach, Taylor Elrod, suggested that finding out to play on sand would boost her passing and total versatility on the court.
“My mentor was like, ‘go try out seaside, you have to be very good at everything,'” Phillips mentioned. “(Then) my sophomore calendar year of higher college I was thrown in there and begun acquiring extra reps.”
Sullivan has advised his athletes that they need to get started starting to be cozy with the unpleasant to develop in the sport. Even however the Texas volleyball group has championship endeavors each season and is coming off profitable a nationwide title, the anticipations have to be managed appropriately.
“Our girls have some expectation of that success,” Sullivan explained. “I imagine that is gonna be the not comfortable component. It’s controlling individuals expectations, knowing that we are not going to be possibly as effective initially as our indoor software and becoming alright with that.”
No matter of expectations, Phillips statements that the staff is thrilled to study and play a new activity, and that it could turn heads through their excursions to Hawaii, California and their season finale close to property in Fort Worth.
“We can be seriously superior, I assume we all know that,” Phillips claimed. “We’re all truly great volleyball players. I assume just as shortly as we get utilised to staying in the sand, everything will occur with each other.”