Sand volleyball on the rise

Sand volleyball on the rise
Christ Academy's Danielle Okeke and Kelsey McClellan practice beach volleyball / Source: KAUZ
Christ Academy's Danielle Okeke and Kelsey McClellan practice beach volleyball / Source: KAUZ

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Sand volleyball has been gaining popularity around the country. There are now 69 colleges that offer it as an NCAA sport.

The sand volleyball fever has now made its way to Texoma. Danielle Okeke and Kelsey McClellan play for the area's first such team at Christ Academy.

"They started a team and Coach Lindemann wanted me to play," Okeke said. "So I was like, 'I will play!' And then I really enjoyed it a lot so I was like, 'I definitely want to keep playing this.'"

"Our coach started this program and I don't know, it just looked like a lot of fun," McClellan said. "And I didn't think I had that much of an option, but I wanted to play anyway."

The biggest difference between indoor and sand is the number of players on the court. For indoor you have 12 on the court at all times, six per side, but for sand, it's only 4 players. Both girls say you have to adjust when switching to the sand.

"It's kind of like a whole different mindset almost," McClellan explained. "Because there is only two of y'all and you just have to think a little bit more, I guess, in sand."

"Beach volleyball is a little more relaxed," Okeke explained. "You don't have to make a perfect play every time, but you just have to be smart with your plays. It's not about how hard you hit it, it's about where you place it. And also I think it takes a lot more work."

Both players are verbally committed to play volleyball in college. Kelsey is committed to Oklahoma Baptist to play indoors, while Danielle is committed to Houston Baptist for Division I beach volleyball, which is the name the NCAA uses for the sport.

"I like indoor a lot better," McClellan said. "Just because I think that's just what I've grown up playing, And so I think that's one of my reasons why I didn't want to play sand. And then also like the school that I picked: I'm going to Oklahoma Baptist and their program was really, like, drawing to me and I really wanted to play there. So it helped me pick indoor."

"Well first, yeah I was looking to play indoor volleyball," Okeke said. "And I was just looking at a lot of schools and I went to a visit and I talked to the sand coach and the indoor coach separately. They both wanted me, but I think sand just... I wanted to do that one more. And we kept in touch so that just seemed like the right choice."

Another former Lady Warrior has already been playing beach volleyball for a few years. Delaney Driver started playing indoor junior college ball at San Jacinto, but then transferred to Louisiana-Monroe where she played two years. She then transferred to Central Arkansas for a season as a graduate transfer where she spent this past season.

Christ Academy has the only sand volleyball program in Texoma right now, but we could see schools adding the sport soon.

"We have some girls from other schools around Wichita Falls like come and practice with us," McClellan said. "And so their interest will like, I think it's growing a lot."

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