BY ANTHONY MENDOLIA
Photo courtesy of COD Athletics. The beach volleyball team has posted a 7-1 record so far, and look to continue their streak as the conference slate heats up.
After finding success in the indoor game this past fall, the women of COD volleyball have also continued their dominant play on the sand. The beach volleyball team is #8 in the state and has started the season on an absolute tear, with a record of 7-1 so far looking to take their success into the early weeks of conference play.
The team is led by the “ones” team pairing of sophomore Ashtyn Lyneis (PSHS) and freshman Kesley Smith (Delta, BC Canada), who have a record of 6-2 in matches this year individually. While being the leaders of the team, Lyneis particularly knows that they cannot just rest on their laurels.
“I love being a leader,” Lyneis said, “but my partner Kelsey and I are told daily in practice that we have to prove ourselves to stay at the top because everyone is targeting us as the team to beat. I do like to set the example of working hard every day, no matter where you stand on the rankings.”
Despite the obvious differences, such as the number of players playing and the weather conditions, co-head coach Detlev Rothe revealed that there is more than makes coaching beach volleyball a difficult proposition.
“As a coach, we are not allowed to ‘coach’ during competition on the beach,” Rothe explained. “This is a grand departure from indoor where there is constant feedback during and after a play and I am sure that players and fans would say that I’m very loud at times. We are allowed to talk with the pairs at timeouts, and possibly get a few words in as they change sides during a set. I guess the challenge lies in anticipating what the pairs will need to know, and try to prepare them as much as possible Monday through Thursday [in practice], then just take a seat and watch it play out Friday.”
The Roadrunners are beginning their first few sets of conference matches, and competition will be as stiff as ever in the PCAC this year. Four of the six teams in the conference are in the top 10 in the state, so the message in practice will be to always work on getting better. One challenge in particular for COD is that they are located nowhere near a beach, and being that the sport is beach volleyball, all of their away games are on the beach.
“This is a disadvantage for us because we do not practice in beach conditions like the rest of our opponents,” Lyneis said. “So the biggest thing we need to improve upon is learning to use nature and its crazy weather to our advantage.”
Even with the obvious weather disadvantage, fellow sophomore Jomarie Viloria (RMHS) believes this team is still very confident going into conference play.
“We’re working on small things like passing to your pop or hitting your serve the right way, but for the most part we’re excited to go play and compete,” Viloria said.
While the conference slate begins to heat up, it is clear that the coaches are already proud of what their players have accomplished so far. “The coaches and I are extremely proud of how hard this team works and the dedication they have shown to every practice rain or shine,” coach Rothe said. “Win or lose, on a weekly basis, I know that perspective will not change.”
The next two matches for COD will be this Friday, March 29, as they take on Grossmont at 9 a.m. and Palomar at 2 p.m. Both matches can be seen at the Civic Center Park in Palm Desert.