The Delta College beach volleyball team will play its season opener on March 1 at the University of the Pacific and expectations are much higher for the team's second season out in the sand.
"A lot of our girls had never played beach so it was a whole new experience," said Head Coach Molly Mordaunt-Hummel about last year when the Mustangs played the first-ever beach volleyball season.
"This year we have a little more expectations to be more competitive. Last year was kind of getting the hang of beach and learning the game," said Mordaunt-Hummel
Last season, the Mustangs went 4-9 in the team's very first season of play.
"We are hoping to make it as a team to postseason play," said Mordaunt-Hummel. "Last year we had individuals make it to the postseason so we are hoping as a whole team we can do that. We are just working on getting better every time we are out here."
To start the season, the lineup will have Fresno State-bound Amilya Thompson partner up with Cal State East Bay-bound Kelly Markham as the top team. Ashley Apel and Alanna Valdez will be paired up at the No. 2 spot.
"Last year was my first ever playing beach," said sophomore Apel who will be headed to play indoor volleyball next year at Cal State Los Angeles."I'm excited. This is our sophomore year and we have a year of experience under our belt. It's so much fun. It's a totally different game and I feel like I am playing a whole new sport."
It has been a learning experience to go from playing six-on-six indoor to playing two-on-two outside in the sand not just for the players but for the coaches as well.
"Beach is a totally different sport," said Mordaunt-Hummel. "I never played beach and only played indoor so I have learned a lot about the game as the years have gone on. It's really fun. I enjoy it because it keeps us competitive and it allows to still be with the girls every single day. Beach is helping our indoor game because it's so much about ball control."
Played during the spring season, beach volleyball is starting to gain in popularity at both the high school and college level as a way to enhance the volleyball program and make it more year round with the indoor season being played during the fall.
"We are pretty lucky to have it," said Mordaunt-Hummel about the importance of it being added as a program last year. "Volleyball is really important to Delta and I think that they saw that other junior colleges had it and the importance of us having it for recruiting purposes so that we could have it over a lot of other junior colleges. It's enticing to a lot of recruits to be able to play indoor and beach."