In three years, the University of South Carolina beach volleyball team has made quite an impression on Gamecock Nation.
USC will start the season where it finished last year, ranked 17th. But there are a couple of changes for the Gamecocks.
This is the first year that beach volleyball teams will compete as an official NCAA Championship sport, and the Gamecocks will be competing in a conference for the first time. USC will play in the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association along with Alabama-Birmingham, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Florida State, Georgia State, Louisiana State University and Tulane.
The Gamecocks have their first of four home weekends Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13.
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Here are five reasons you should go to at least some of those:
Watching a USC beach volleyball game is easy, cheap and relaxing. Admission is free. Wheeler Beach, home for the USC beach volleyball team, is behind the Rice Athletics Center on Heyward Street, and a parking garage nearby makes for easy access. There are bleachers, but you also can bring a blanket. There is always music playing.
“It’s super laid-back,” said Baley Murphy of USC’s sports information department.
Wheeler Beach is the closest beach to Columbia. Sure, the ocean is still about 120 miles away, but a beach is a beach.
USC’s head coach is Moritz Moritz. How can you not go watch a team coached by Moritz Moritz?
Don’t forget the game. USC’s beach volleyball team is good. In its third year, the Gamecocks were ranked 17th preseason after finishing the 2015 season ranked 17th with a respectable 14-7 record.
Maybe that’s why they have so many dedicated student fans. Well, at least one reason.
“Beach volleyball is a great way to spend part of your day,” said senior Jeff Langston. “The women work incredibly hard to compete on a national level. … Their hard work and determination should be rewarded by us as fans and Gamecocks.”
Games are played when the weather should be nice. Since this is Columbia, no one can guarantee what the weather will be like in March or April. It could be 90 degrees or 40 degrees – or both on the same day. But chances are, everyone will be working on tans at Wheeler Beach.
Lezlie Patterson, Special to Go Columbia
Other USC beach volleyball home games
The season for the USC beach volleyball team opened earlier this month, and the first weekend home game is this weekend. Among other home matches:
Carolina Classic: Saturday, March 19 and Sunday, March 20 with Jacksonville State, Louisiana-Monroe, Florida Atlantic and North Florida.
College of Charleston: Tuesday, March 22
Gamecock Invitational: Saturday, March 26 and Sunday, March 27 with UAB, Carson Newman, Jacksonville and TCU.
Palmetto Invitational: Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17 with UNC-Wilmington, Louisiana State University, Carson Newman and Coastal Carolina.
Want to know more?
Find times and other details about USC’s beach volleyball season: www.gamecocksonline.com/sports/w-svolley/scar-w-svolley-body.html