The Mesa Community College beach volleyball team and first year head coach Jordan Herrington have seen major success thus far in their third season.
The Lady T-Birds have gone 9-6 so far, and have won both conference matches they’ve played.
MCC and South Mountain Community College are the only two schools in the ACCAC with beach volleyball teams.
Most of the Lady T-Birds have played volleyball as their primary sport and are new to beach volleyball, which is vastly different from volleyball.
Beach volleyball and indoor volleyball may have similar objectives, the two sports differ due to playstyle, gameplan, and training. The court in beach volleyball is smaller than an indoor court, and there are only two players on the court as opposed to six during an indoor contest.
Running and jumping in sand can be very difficult if you do not do it very often. For volleyball players, who come from an indoor background translating their game to the beach, it can prove to be difficult at times.
In indoor volleyball, when a player wants to jump for the ball, they almost appear to be floating towards their target. They almost take a running jump, while in beach volleyball when one wants to jump for the ball, floating is not an option.
Players must jump almost straight up in order to get as much air as possible due to the sand being an obstacle to overcome.
Playing a new sport can, at times, be frustrating, and the learning curve can be immense, but Herrington is happy with how her team has taken the adjustment to a new sport in stride and their willingness to buy in.
“These girls are open and willing to learn. At the beginning of the year we started at the base and fundamentals and they took it on,” said Herrington, “at the collegiate level it’s not easy being at a high level on the court and coming into the beach. It’s a completely different game and that can be discouraging.”
MCC won two of their first three games of the season before facing a big test, six games in five days in California.
The team would make the most of the trip, as they would win four out of five matches. Herrington credits the trip as a turning point for the Lady T-Birds season.
“I think our turning part of our season was going to California for that five day span, playing various competition and came out and took care of business and that was a point where they were like ‘whoa we can really be something if we want to,’” said Herrington.
After coming back home, MCC hit a bit of adversity as they dropped their next three matches to Ottawa University “B”, Arizona Christian University, and Wayne State College.
The Lady T-Birds responded well to the losses and have since put together a three match winnings streak with wins over conference opponent SMCC, and two straight wins over Trinidad State College.
In their win over SMCC, the pairing of Abby Platt and Annie Hansen came up big for their team in their third set. They trailed 6-1 then later trailed 8-2 and came back to get the win 16-14 to seal the deal over the Cougars.
Herrington credits her team’s mental toughness and determination for their ability to fight and claw their way to victory against their fellow ACCAC opponent.
With the season winding down, MCC has the NJCAA DII national tournament to look forward to as long as they can continue their success and win their region.
With SMCC and MCC being the only two schools in the region, the winner between the two will earn one of the nine automatic bids to the postseason.
If the Lady T-Birds lose, they still have a chance to compete in the tournament if they can secure an at-large bid. This year, the tournament is from April 20-22 in Tavares, FL.