USA Volleyball’s response to COVID-19 and guidelines toward Return to Play.

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USA Volleyball’s response to COVID-19 and guidelines toward Return to Play.

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MANHATTAN BEACH, California (July 21, 2019) – A place that typically sees cold, damp weather nine months of the year doesn’t sound like prime beach volleyball territory, but Dakine Volleyball Club in Tacoma, Washington, has emerged from the gray and brought beach volleyball to the Pacific Northwest.

The club has 44 members competing in the 2019 Beach Tour Junior Championships (NBTJC), far more than any other club in the country. They’ve already seen success, too; Dakine members claimed both gold and silver in the Girls 16U Regional competition that concluded Sunday. 

How do you play beach volleyball when it’s miserable beach weather outside? Bring it indoors. The club has three indoor courts for year-round practice in addition to outdoor courts in times of good weather. 

Practicing indoors is nice, but outdoor conditions are tough to replicate. “When you’re inside, you don’t get the natural elements that come with playing outside,” said Samantha O’Connor from the Girls 16U Region Division that finished Saturday. “There’s no wind inside, and it’s really hard for us in the winter to gain experience playing in wind. When we come here, it’s kind of a big shock.”

There is one thing that may be an advantage, however. “One good thing about our sand inside is that it’s super deep, so it’s harder to jump in,” said Maia Nichols from the Girls 18U National Open Division. “When we get here, it’s a little bit easier to jump and hit the ball.” 

But what about adapting to the wind? “You just have to do the best you can when you get down here.”

It’s not only the different weather conditions that Dakine members benefit from by traveling, but they see a lot more competition, too. According to club director Ariana Hannemann, “Up in the Pacific Northwest, most of the time the top three to five teams are all Dakine teams, those are the kids they train with year-round. They want to play as many different players as they can. It’s really good for us to come down here and have our weakness exposed so we can ho home and work on them.”

Numerous Dakine players spend anywhere from two weeks to more than a month every summer in more traditional beach volleyball locales. That time is something to be treasured, according to Scarlett Dahls, Nichols’ partner. “In my opinion, none of us take it for granted. If you’re down here, it’s because you really want to be here, and you love it because obviously we aren’t as lucky to have beautiful beaches like this in our backyard. In the months we don’t have school and we can be down here, the competition’s tough. Everyone wants to be down here.”

And, with 16 more competitors than any other club at NBTJC, seemingly everyone from Dakine is. 

If Blood’s Thicker than Water, What About Words?

If you looked at courts 20 and 24 during Sunday morning’s 14U session, you would have sworn you were seeing triple. Don’t worry, you were.

The Boys 14U National Open division features a set of triplets: Chase, Evan, and Johnny Tsilimos from Broadmoor Heights, Ohio. Chase and his partner, Patrick Maly, decided to play in the NBTJCs, and rather than hope both their usual beach partners wanted to play, Johnny and Evan decided to team up to ensure they both got to participate. 

How is it playing with your brother? 

“It’s … interesting.” said Johnny. 

“Fun and kind of annoying,“ continued Evan. 

“There’s a lot of arguing,” Johnny admitted. 

It seems like it’s tough to stop being siblings on the volleyball court, an issue that Chase and Patrick don’t need to worry about. 

“There’s a lot more arguing when they play than when we play,” said Maly of Evan and Johnny. “They’re not as hard on their friends than they are on their brother. They expect more out of their family because they know they’re capable.”

Chase agreed. “You don’t really care if you yell at a brother, but you care if you yell at a friend.” 

One last issue to settle: which pair was better? Johnny think’s it’s pretty even. “We split when we played. They beat us when we jump served and we beat them when we float served.” 

But when Patrick and Chase answered that same question, there was no hesitation; both immediately said their partnership was better. “More communication and we don’t get mad at one another, we get mad at ourselves,” according to Chase. 

“And if he gets down about a point, I’ll be there to pick him up, and if I get down, he’ll pick me up,” said Patrick. 

When informed about Chase and Patrick’s comments, there was just one thing for Johnny and Evan to say: “Bring it on.”

Spoken like true brothers. 

The 2019 National Beach Tour Junior Championships continue Monday, July 22, with the second round of pool play for the 14U and 18U divisions, once again at Manhattan Beach.