Lady Trojans take their talents to the beach
Several Jenks volleyball players decided to crank their training up a notch this summer.
Seniors Kylie Rathbun and Mia Burge took to the sand over the summer for their second consecutive summer playing beach volleyball.
The sport mimics indoor volleyball with a few twists. Teams are set up in groups of two instead of six and though the court is smaller to accommodate the lack of players, it doesn’t make things any easier.
“It’s harder to move in the sand,” Rathbun said. “A lot of girls will work out in the sand and play in the sand to improve their vertical, improve their speed and improve their volleyball IQ.”
Though the game is tough on the body, the voice gets the most exercise. With more ground to cover, each player must stay focused and stay vocal with their partners.
“You have to trust your partner a lot more because it’s just you two and then you have to communicate a lot more with the sand being deeper. You need to have that trust,” Burge said.
Rathbun and Burge believe they have that trust.
Friends since the third grade, the two say they move through the game with relative ease given the familiarity with one another. Their third-place finish at the national competition in Manhattan, California was a testament to that.
Rathbun and Burge have caught on quickly, this being just their second summer to compete. However, it’s not always smooth sailing.
Any problem that may arise is quickly wiped away with strong communication skills.
“We’re typically on the same page but anytime one of us is off the other is like ‘hey, come on, let’s go,’ and we pick up the slack,” Burge said.
Players are typically allowed to choose their partners and Rathbun said hers was a no-brainer.
“I’ve known her before volleyball so it’s a pretty easy choice,” she said. “A lot of people just get thrown in together and have to figure it out.”
Those left to “figure it out” included Megan Salyer.
The incoming Jenks sophomore was entering her second summer of beach volleyball with her partner, Adison Morgan by her side. But when Morgan got injured, it forced Salyer to look at other options.
She called on a friend and former club teammate from Bishop Kelly to fill the void. At first, adjusting to a new teammate didn’t go well.
“I’m used to communicating with (Morgan), so it was a challenge, so we didn’t do that well,” Salyer said.
The communication disparity cost them in the long run. Their run in the playoffs didn’t find them going very far. Salyer walked away from California with a first-round loss.
Salyer said she didn’t take the loss to heart.
“It was so much fun. I just went for the experience, really,” she said.
Freshman Alisha Blonsky also made the trip to California for beach volleyball.
With the regular season quickly approaching, the players that participated in beach volleyball expect their hard work in the sand to translate to the hardwood.
While many volleyball players train in different ways, those who compete in beach volleyball find that it gives the best all-around training.
“There are a lot of good vertical programs out there that can give you the same edge,” Rathbun said. “I think (beach volleyball) gives you that same IQ up another level because you have to think about your shots and look for the holes.”
Jenks volleyball opens its season Aug. 13 at Bartlesville.