SEATTLE – The first date for the Husky sand volleyball team has been set, with a short 2014 competition schedule leading towards a full schedule for the 2015 season. In this inaugural season, the Huskies will make one tournament appearance, on April 12, in Portland, Ore.
In that tournament, Washington will compete against two other Northwest teams also new to the sand volleyball world this year: Oregon and BoiseState. The two matches will be UW’s only official competitions this year, though an intrasquad exhibition is in the works for a date in April.
Washington practiced on the sand for the first time this Monday, the first of twenty scheduled sand practices this spring. The feeling out process with the new sport in terms of practices, scheduling, travel, and allowing for the players to learn the new sport drove the decision to limit the match schedule this season and aim for a full slate down the road.
“There are more questions than answers in terms of how to make sand volleyball successful at UW in terms of practice, competition, facilities, who we’re going to play, so we wanted to address some of those questions before playing a full schedule,” said Head Coach Keegan Cook.
Cook, who completed his first season as an assistant coach on the indoor squad this fall, got to see a sand team get off the ground first hand last year while coaching at St. Mary’s. The Gaels played 10 matches last year in their first season of sand, but had basic advantages in geography.
“When I was at St. Mary’s, we had the advantage of being able to drive an hour to play eight teams to fill our schedule. That’s not feasible with sand volleyball at Washington,” Cook says. “We have to travel farther, which means missed class time and stress on your athletes, and that becomes an issue because we’re using the same athletes (as indoors). So this shorter season gives us an opportunity to answer a lot of the practical questions in preparation for the 2015 season, which will be our first full eight-competition schedule, and away we go.”