A critical factor in sand volleyball competition is the chemistry between the two teammates on the court. On Wednesday the Hatters tried out several new pairings in a fall scrimmage contest against Webber International University. The end result proved positive as the Hatters came away with seven wins, three losses and two ties.
"I thought it was a really good day," head coach Tim Loesch said. "We are ahead of where we were last year. We have a lot of new faces, and they are playing at a pretty good level. We had to change our lineup at the last minute and about half the team had to play with new partners, so I was excited that they still did well."
One such new pairing was junior Katie DiGirolamo and sophomore Julie Bassett, who won a hard-fought contest against Webber's second seeded team 22-20, 21-19.
"This was our first time playing together, and in our first match as the second seed, we played really well together," DiGirolamo said. "We were hitting well, we were siding-out well, so we were really happy."
After several weeks of competing against their own teammates, the Hatters were looking forward to playing outside competition for the first time this year.
"We were so excited to finally get to play somebody else," sophomore Savannah Byl said. "When you play the same people everyday in practice, you just know what they are good at."
Byl's partner on Wednesday, sophomore Maren Rygh, agreed.
"We scrimmaged against our own teammates a thousand times already, so it was nice playing a different team," Rygh said. "With new teams, you can start adjusting to what they do and get a component that's not there in practice."
Wednesday also marked the first time Byl and Rygh had been paired together against outside opposition.
"We were a little nervous, but we definitely progressed throughout the game," Byl said.
"There were some ups and downs but I think we calmed down a little at the end and we were able to have fun with it," Rygh added.
While Wednesday's competition was just an exhibition, the Hatters got some valuable on-court experience with at least one possible teammate for the spring.
"The chemistry with your partner is really important in sand volleyball," DiGirolamo said. "We are all trying to figure out who our best partner is, and we all seem to be clicking very well. We have a lot of team chemistry and everyone is cheering for each other."
A major challenge for Loesch and the coaching staff is to figure out which pairings have the best chemistry.
"It is something we are still working on with a lot of new faces," Loesch said. "But we have also got four to six indoor players that will be coming into the mix as well, so we are kind of going to go through the same thing next semester anyhow. But we got some good ideas and at least a couple strong possibilities for every player for partners."
While the Hatters are in just their second season of sand volleyball competition, Webber has had a program for a few years.
"Webber is a good team, they have older, more experienced players, so I was glad we were able to compete with them," Loesch said.
Each head-to-head competition in the scrimmage was played as two games to 21, instead of the usual best-two-out-of-three format.
Match 1 (Stetson 4-2)
#1 Maren Rygh/Savannah Byl lost to Webber 21-17, 21-14
#2 Julie Bassett/Katie DiGirolamo defeated Webber 22-20, 21-19
#3 Taylor Kennedy/Erin Robertson lost to Webber 21-18, 21-14
#4 Stephanie Marin/Claudia Kalin defeated Webber 21-19, 21-19
#5 Jordan Dierickx/Madison Tormey defeated Webber 21-15, 21-10
#6 Kirsten Germeroth/Kendale Speyerer defeated Webber 21-13, 21-5
Match 2 (Stetson 3-1-2)
#1 Julie Bassett/Katie DiGirolamo lost to Webber 21-9, 21-19
#2 Maren Rygh/Savannah Byl defeated Webber 21-14, 21-15
#3 Stephanie Marin/Claudia Kalin tied Webber 22-20, 17-21
#4 Taylor Kennedy/Erin Robertson tied Webber 24-22, 23-25
#5 Kendale Speyerer/Kara Young defeated Webber 21-15, 21-10
#6 Jordan Dierickx/Madison Tormey defeated Webber 21-17, 21-15