Jerritt Elliott: Beach volleyball Q&A
April 22, 2009
Following Texas' third appearance at the Collegiate Beach Nationals, Longhorns' head coach Jerritt Elliott sat down with TexasSports.com to discuss the growth of the beach game, reconnecting with former players at the AVP Riverside event and how outdoor play helps improve play indoors.
On the Collegiate Beach Nationals: It was a great event. It was by far the best event they've put together for the collegiate nationals because it was in conjunction with the AVP. They competed on the AVP courts, which was great because there was a good fan base. In between games, the girls had the opportunity to watch some of the pros. It was fun to see some of our younger players out there in the sand for the first time. The setup was nice, but it was extremely hot. There was no wind, so the outside temperature was in the 90's and that was difficult on the team. The overall performance was good, and I thought we got some really good plays when it came down to it. We lost some sets by very tight margins.
As the day progressed there was definitely a good side and a bad side, the bad side being the weather. We had an opportunity at the number one spot and we were up 10-7 in the third set of a game to 15, on the good side. We made a few too many errors in the end. I thought our team played very well and battled in a very tight match. Overall, there is a lot to learn from it; the execution, the mental side of the game, the communication, the reading skills and all the different intangibles that go into beach volleyball. It really is a different game than indoors. There is a lot more thought process, and you have to be well rounded at each skill to be a good beach player. It is one of the best games that our players can play in the offseason. We found that there is a big benefit to it in terms of training and now our team has the confidence to go out and play on its own during the summer. It was a great event for us.
On the performance of the team: I thought they all had spurts of playing well. I think the level of the beach game that they are at is a level where there can be a lot of inconsistencies. Overall I thought they were able to carry some of the training we have been doing in the game and show some different looks defensively. It is just making those reads and committing to them. We made some errors based on experience, not on effort level.
On the AVP event in Riverside: It is always great to go to an AVP event, you get to see a lot of former players. I saw my former players Tracy Lindquist, Jennifer Kessy, April Ross and a lot of guys I grew up playing with. It is an environment I grew up in and I know a lot of the people, so it was fun to be around. It is always great to reconnect with past players. Obviously, Jennifer Kessy and April Ross are doing phenomenally well on the AVP. They won a few AVP gold events over the summer. It was great to see Tracy too. She is just one of those players that is special to watch. At 5'7", she can play with anybody. She has more volleyball IQ than most players. She gets in and competes every day and does really well. She is one of the true joys to watch on the beach.
On transitioning skills between the sand and indoors: The transition is definitely different. The beach game is very different from indoors. We are fortunate in that we have a staff that is experienced on the beach. It is a different game in terms of training. You set differently, you pass differently and you execute differently. If you can't pass on the beach, then you're going to get served a lot. If you can't side-out or swing well you're going to get served a lot. You must become tuned in to where your skills are, and how to develop them. It is definitely a game that teaches you ball control and shot selection.
On if his players are interested in AVP: There are a lot of players that are looking to potentially play on the AVP. Lauren Paolini and Kiley Hall went to training over Spring Break with the AVP. I know they are interested. I also know that Ashley Engle and Juliann Faucette are looking at potentially playing on the beach when their time at Texas is done. It is a nice opportunity. The game takes time to become well-versed and really learn the game. You can be a good indoor player, but it takes time. It can take a good three to four years to play at the highest level. If they are going to do that, we are in full support of that.