MARICOPA — It’s hard to believe that we’re not even a month into the beach volleyball season and the Rams have already hit the halfway mark.
Maricopa currently has a 2-3 record after defeating Skyline 3-2 on Tuesday afternoon at the Copper Sky Recreation Complex.
“So far I thinks it’s been a great season,” said head coach Theresa Abernathy. “I feel like every match that we’ve played the girls have improved so much. I see a lot more control hitting, passing, serving, so it’s been good for us. (There’s) a lot of improvement so it’s a good thing.”
The roster features four Rams who made the jump from indoor volleyball to the outdoors and are the top two pairs for Abernathy.
The top duo is Haley Brown and Kylee Foster and the second pair is Meghann Epplen and Victoria Richardson.
“They’re figuring out the game,” Abernathy said. “Both matches, they had to learn how to calm it down. And this is a game of doubles — it’s not about a lot of power, it’s about finesse and putting the ball where it needs to be or where the other team is not. It’s really about taking control and just controlling the game; you can’t sacrifice power for control so that’s what we have to focus on.”
The rest of Maricopa’s pairs are Kenzie Abercombie and Zeah Zimpleman at court three, Izabella Lopez and Savannah Hendrix at court four, and Bella Cox and Amanda Maddox at court five.
Abernathy pointed out that contrary to what one would expect there’s not a lot to transition from the indoor game to the outdoor as there are a lot of different elements to be taken into consideration.
In beach volleyball, the pair have to deal with playing in the scorching sun in late April and sometimes the wind can be a factor, as it was on Tuesday afternoon.
“The most difficult part has been getting them to pass outdoors instead of indoors,” Abernathy said. “Outdoor volleyball is just precise, calm, you have to be calm. I think that’s my challenge is getting them (to calm down). … It’s taken a minute, but I think they’re figuring it out. They’re starting to ask more questions; to me that’s telling me that they’re willing and ready to learn.”
There’s also the fact that they play in sand, which really slows down the athlete’s momentum compared to the hardwood in the school gymnasium.
Another factor for the Rams is that a lot of the girls on the roster are experiencing the sport for the first time.
“A few of these girls didn’t even play indoors,” Abernathy said. “It’s just a matter of them learning what’s different, they’re two different games even though they both (use a) volleyball. I’ve been working really, really hard and trying to separate the two.”
The Rams’ final home match is April 13 against Desert Vista as they will begin an extremely difficult portion of the schedule.
Along with Desert Vista, Maricopa will face Corona del Sol, Mountain Pointe and Casteel all of which have been very successful programs in the past and qualified for the 2019 state tournament.
“We’re still going to face some really tough teams so I’m hoping that the progress that we’re making so far is helping them for the next half,” Abernathy said. “I expect them to continue to grow. It’s not so much about the wins, it’s every time you get out there you have to get better and better. So that’s my hope is that they keep growing no matter whether they win or they lose, that’s what’s important to me.”