Fall season was disappointing for the Owls. FAU played all of its matches indoors, going 3-26 overall and 0-16 in Sun Belt Conference matches. Yet, players believe their fortune is about to change with a shift to the sand. Beach season is on the horizon, and the squad is ready to erase the bad memories from autumn.
Dressed in FAU shirts and dark shorts, teammates Darija Sataric, Chandler Hatton, Sara Stoll and Lauren Jones gathered on an 80 degree Wednesday afternoon, on campus, for an optional practice at the IRT courts near Algonquin Hall.
Sataric looked around at her teammates afterwards, proudly saying “We all know each other more,” as they heaved over laughing.
“We have more team chemistry,” Jones, a freshman, said of the difference for the spring season. “[Optional practices] are bringing the team together.”
One by one, they explained the differences between indoor and beach volleyball.
“Indoor is a lot more specific to your technique, and where the ball is going to go,” Jones said.
“You can be a lot more scrappy [in outdoor matches],” redshirt sophomore Stoll said. “We have to rely on our other teammates. We have to trust them. It’s a lot more fun because you’re constantly moving the entire time.”
Sataric, a sophmore, says the playing surface and natural elements have an effect as well.
“It’s harder to move in the sand, to jump or go after a ball,” Sataric said. “[Being] in the sun, it’s different with the wind.”
Only two players are used in beach volleyball, as opposed to six in indoor volleyball. This places added accountability on the tandem to make smart plays. Head coach Jody Brown will be present for the matches, but will not be able to give advice during the action. Because of this, the team has been working in practice on communicating effectively on the court.
“He’s been helping us a little bit here and there, but he wants us to figure out stuff on our own,” Stoll said. “We have to figure each other out on our own.”
“That’s how it’s going to be in beach. We call the timeouts and he can’t coach us in the game,” freshman Hatton added. “So, we have to figure everything out ourselves.”
Hatton said she enjoys the beach season because it gives her an opportunity to display her versatility. It allows her to maneuver her lean 6-foot-2 frame across the surface to dig when the opposing team bats the ball over the net and also to pass to her teammate to set up points. These are things she did not get the chance to do in the fall while playing right side.
“Out here it’s more fun because we’re doing things that we don’t normally do,” Hatton said. “We’re doing everything.”
The players practice every day from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. and lift weights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They insist last season is behind them, and that taking part in optional practices like this only helps.
“It’s important, for sure. We’ve been working hard this whole spring,” Stoll said. “This year we’ve been taking up all our time practicing as much as we can, and I think we’re ready.”