What it takes to transition from indoor to beach volleyball

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With no beach in sight, it may come as a surprise that Boise State has a beach volleyball team. Tucked away behind Lincoln Townhomes across from the Lincoln turf field lies the sand courts where the team practices and plays.

After finishing up their 2019 season 13-6 overall, some of the Boise State beach players have already started preparing for their indoor volleyball season, which will pick up in the fall.

There is some overlapping of players from the indoor team to the beach team. Each season, the coaches hold a tryout for the indoor team to see which players will receive the opportunity to play and travel with the beach team. This decision is all up to the coaches and how well they believe the players can transition from one style to the other.

Sophomore Kiley Lewis is one of the players who is able to play on both the indoor and beach volleyball teams.

“Beach has different rules and the court is a lot smaller,” Lewis said. “Indoor is more power hitting, (whereas) for beach, it’s more shots and being more strategic.”

In indoor volleyball, there are six players on the court at all times, and each one has a specific position that they play the entire time. In beach volleyball, there are two players on the court at all times and it requires a lot more communication, since there is more ground to be covered by each individual.

Sophomore Jensen Allen is another Bronco who played both indoor and beach during her freshman year. In the fall of 2017, Allen finished out her indoor season with the Broncos (17-14) (10-8). This past season, Allen only played for the beach team and went 6-6 with her partner, freshman Ellie McDonald.

“When I played indoor, I was an outside hitter and then I transitioned to a defensive player,” Allen said. “(In indoor), everything was focused on one skill, but with beach you have to be able to do everything.”

There are eight Boise State players who play both indoor and beach, but the rest chose to stick with just one. Sophomore Kylee Johnson is one of the eight who only plays beach, unlike her partner Lewis.

“I think we work really well together because she’s a really good ball-control player,” Lewis said about Johnson. “I feel very confident when they’re serving her that she can get the ball up. I would say that I’m more a blocker and she’s a really good defensive person, so it balances us out well.”

As a student-athlete, Johnson is also a part of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority on campus and holds an executive position. She not only had to overcome an injury this season, but also practice time management by scheduling her classes around her practice and lift schedules.

As a school in a non-beach state, Boise State has begun to make a name for itself in the beach volleyball world. Johnson hopes to contribute to her team throughout her next few seasons.

“I think that this was a really great season for us as far as Boise State beach volleyball, one of our most winning seasons,” Johnson said. “So I just think we had that will at the end that we were going to do whatever it took to win. I think we need to carry that into next season.”

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