Volleyball with a grain of sand

Holz excelling at national level for indoor, sand volleyball


Tracy Tran

Coppell junior outside hitter Haley Holz awaits a serve during the match against Marcus in the CHS Arena on Sept. 24. Holz is one of many high school athletes playing both sand and indoor volleyball.

Meer Mahfuz, Co-Sports Editor

Coppell junior outside hitter and 692 Beach Volleyball player Haley Holz breathes volleyball. Whether it be skedaddling across sand volleyball courts or flying up and down the grippy indoor volleyball courts, Holz is in the environment throughout the year. 

This is her double life.

Coppell junior outside hitter and 692 Beach Volleyball player Haley Holz looks on after scoring a point at MADSAND Volleyball in Plano on Aug. 30. Holz is one of many high school athletes playing both sand and indoor volleyball. (Photo courtesy Haley Holz)

Year in and year out, Holz spends all her time with a volleyball in her hands, matching up with her doubles partner in sand volleyball competitions in the summer and spring seasons and gathering in the tight knit community of indoor volleyball in the fall and winter.

Sand and indoor volleyball players alike share different experiences on the playing field. Sand volleyball pairs often spend hours together without interacting with a coach or other teammates, while indoor volleyball has more of a herd mentality with many players and coaches in a clannish circle, both having their own benefits and drawbacks.

“[Beach volleyball] gives me a lot more freedom where I can do whatever I want,” Holz said. “I love having [the freedom] but I also love having that community in indoor volleyball, which is probably the thing I miss having most in beach [volleyball].”

While some Coppell ISD students might recognize the game of sand volleyball, having participated in the annual Sand Volleyball Tournament hosted by Coppell Cowgirls Volleyball, many of them do not truly understand its rules and reality.

Holz has spent years on end perfecting her technique in both playing fields. Having joined her indoor volleyball club – Attack Volleyball – on the cusp of sixth grade, Holz excelled quickly and reached the national level with her club in her freshman year. Similarly, Holz joined beach volleyball in eighth grade and reached the national level with her partner, Dylan Brewer from Rio Rancho, New Mexico in her sophomore year.

“[My proudest moment would be] in USAV Nationals from this past summer,” Holz said. “[My partner and I] played four committed girls in pool [play] and we beat both of them; that was probably the biggest win [my partner and I] ever had.” 

While sand and indoor volleyball do share a basic framework, there are many differences between the two – the obvious of which is in the name, with the former being played on a sand surface and the latter being played on a basketball-like court. 

“It’s so much easier to jump [on a court], it’s so much easier to move around, but the court is bigger to make it the same level of difficulty [as sand volleyball],” Coppell senior setter and CCVB Sand Volleyball Tournament player Mari Taira said. “Also, the ground is hard, so it’s easier to jump off of, and it doesn’t shift, so you can move around faster. It’s better [than playing on sand].” 

Some of the finer differences are not so obvious to the eye. One of which would be the differences of regulations on open-hand hitting.

“Tipping in indoor volleyball is done with an open hand but in [sand], you can’t do that, you have to use your knuckles,” Taira said.

Another key differing factor that Holz has to transition from during the fall and winter seasons is the differences in the type of ball. In indoor volleyball, balls are typically heavier and made with leather, making it easier to hit and move quicker, whereas sand volleyball uses softer, lighter and bigger balls. 

The growing desire and competition to play collegiate volleyball has led many high school athletes, like Holz, to shift their focus towards learning to play beach volleyball.

“[Playing beach volleyball] is a good opportunity to play a sport that is a little bit more obscure and [has] less competition for playing at the collegiate level,” Coppell junior Sand Volleyball Tournament player and Attack Volleyball outside hitter Austin Lee said.

While Holz plays both beach and indoor volleyball, she remains undecided about which to pursue in her future. 

“I am not deciding on specific schools yet, I really do want to find the school that is the best fit for me and [somewhere] I love the coaches, the program and my teammates,” Holz said. “If that happens, then I would love to play beach [volleyball] in college.”

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