The Southern Miss beach volleyball team made its debut in Gulf Shores, Alabama on Oct. 27. Sophomore transfer Olivia Hepworth and freshman Abbey Wilson represented the program.
“It was a lot of fun,” Hepworth said. “I feel like [debuting the program] is what we’ve been working for here ever since we got here in August so it was a lot of fun to see how we matched up with other teams that we will be playing against when the season rolls around.”
In the tournament, the Golden Eagles played against LSU, Florida State, Stetson and Spring Hill. Southern Miss finished the tournament with a 1-3 record with the one win coming against Spring Hill.
“We really didn’t know how we were going to matchup against everybody else because there is just two of us and we haven’t played yet,” Hepworth said. “It was definitely interesting [in] our first match playing together in a real game. I think by our third and fourth matches we kind of got it together.”
Despite the tough start, both girls found it to be a learning experience and gained a better mindset as to the competition they will face at the start of the spring season.
“[Just] knowing what we need to practice and once we got there we had our weaknesses exposed so now we have specific things to practice and our training,” Wilson said. “Just knowing the expectation of what level, we have to be at to be competitive.”
Hepworth talked about how important communication is to the sport and the team.
“I think communication is something that we still have to really work on and it’s something that is really a game changer,” Hepworth said. “So when the new girls come in we are all going to have to work really hard and have to communicate together until we find the person we will be playing with and then work really hard to play well with them.”
Coaching in place for head volleyball coach Stephanie Radecki was graduate assistant Hannah Masoner.
“It’s a huge help [to see some conference teams],” Masoner said. “They now know what to expect. They can see [and] understand the caliber of play we are holding them to. So they know how much work they have to put in going forward.”
In the spring, Southern Miss will play in the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association beach volleyball conference. Members of the conference are UAB, College of Charleston, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Florida State, Georgia State, LSU, UNC Wilmington, South Carolina, Tulane and TCU, which is also a new member to the conference.
The team’s roster will feature a total of 12 players, most of whom will be players from Southern Miss’ current indoor team. As of now, senior Kylie Grandy is the only Southern Miss indoor player that is officially playing for the program.
The program is still in the process of finalizing its spring roster and also establishing the schedule for the spring season.