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March 24, 2017


Saturday: vs. #13 Stetson, 1 p.m. ( Watch on SEC Network+) | vs. #1 Southern Cal, 5 p.m. ( Watch on SEC Network+)
Sunday: vs. #4 Florida State, 1 p.m. ( Watch on SEC Network+) | vs. #9 Georgia State, 5 p.m. ( Watch on SEC Network+)

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The very best of NCAA beach volleyball descends on Wheeler Beach this weekend, at the South Carolina Gamecocks host the Gamecock Grand Slam on March 25 and 26. Coming to town are the defending NCAA champions Southern California, 2016 national runner-up Florida State, No. 9 Georgia State and No. 13 Stetson. South Carolina will play at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with center court matches to air live on the SEC Network+.

The Gamecocks have two more home tournaments coming up at Wheeler Beach this year, after sweeping three duals in the Gamecock Challenge on March 11-12. South Carolina has been historically strong at home, compiling a record of 27-8 over the program’s first three years. Last year was a high point, with the Gamecocks going 14-3 at home.

The Hatters are 5-8 so far this season, but have earned their top-15 ranking due to a schedule that has already put them up against six opponents in the AVCA top 10. Last weekend, Stetson went 3-1 at its home tournament, beating Morehead State, Jacksonville State and New Mexico but losing 3-2 to No. 8 Georgia State. After a perfect 4-0 week splitting time between the 2s and 3s, Kaylee Anderson and Emily Carroll were named the ASUN Pair of the Week. Leading the lineup for most of the season has been Norweigian duo Maggie Skjelbred and Sunniva Helland-Hansen, who are currently 4-6 this season in the top spot.

Southern Cal is the defending national champion, bringing home the first NCAA-sponsored title in the history of collegiate beach volleyball this past spring. The Women of Troy are currently 12-0 this season and are on a 42-match win streak in duals coming into the weekend. Of the team’s 12 wins, eight have come against teams ranked in the AVCA Top 15. Leading the way are top pair Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes, the seniors are currently on an 84-match winning streak and are 103-3 in their careers. On the international level, Claes and Hughes have medaled at the FIVB U19 and U21 tournaments, among many other accomplishments. Fellow seniors Allie Wheeler and Nicollette Martin are also quickly approaching 100 career wins as well, though the former pair now play in the 2s and 3s, respectively.

The Seminoles are the defending CCSA champions and were the national runner-up to Southern Cal at last season’s national championship. This spring, Florida State is 8-4 through its first three weekends of action, with nine matchups against top-10 teams, earning the team the No. 4 spot in the latest AVCA coaches poll. Last weekend in Hawai’i, Florida State defeated No. 7 Arizona and No. 5 Hawai’i, but did lose to the top-ranked Trojans. Three of the team’s four losses have come on 3-2 decisions, and the Seminoles will get their third crack at USC on Saturday morning. The strength of the team has been its depth, as the 2s, 3s and 4s pairs come into the weekend with a combined record of 28-7. Junior Katie Horton and freshman Francesca Goncalves are the reigning CCSA Pair of the Week honors after posting a 4-0 record down in Hawai’i.

The Panthers are 10-5 entering the weekend, thanks to a 4-1 performance at the Stetson Invitational. Georgia State claimed wins over Jacksonville State, Morehead State, New Mexico and the host Hatters, but did lose 3-2 to Florida Atlantic. The weekend was a strong rebound after the team went 0-4 at the East vs. West tournament out at UCLA. The Panthers are led by top pair Chelsea Ross and Delaney Rohan; Ross is a graduate transfer from Middle Tennessee State’s indoor team, and Rohan went 29-6 last season in the team’s 3s pairing.

After the team’s 3-1 weekend at the LSU Tiger Beach Challenge
“It was a very hard-fought weekend where we showed a lot of patience, composure, and tenacity. We are very happy with the way the whole team competed. We knew that none of our opponents would give us an inch, and that really stretched us to continue to improve throughout the weekend. Tulane is a very well-coached and skilled team so we had our work cut out for us right from the get go. LSU is a super physical and dynamic team, and while we didn’t come out on the winning side of it, our team gave a great effort.

Against both FGCU and UAB we came out strong in the four and five positions to establish a strong foothold and really put together some tough performances to win. We are continuing to learn more and more about ourselves through competition and will continue to be tested in the next several weeks. We have a great group that are giving each other everything they have and that is exciting to be a part of. Our central focus remains to get better every chance we can.”


  • In the win over UAB, head coach Moritz Moritz won his 50th career match as the program’s head coach.
  • This is the fastest the program has ever reached double-digit wins. The 20-win team from last season reached its tenth win on March 22.
  • The Gamecocks are now 7-0 in the all-time series with UAB, and earned their first win ever against FGCU.
  • With her comeback win against FGCU, Julia Mannisto became the fifth Gamecock in program history to reach double-digit three-set wins in a career.
  • Thanks to wins over Coastal Carolina and FGCU this week, South Carolina is now 5-0 against the Atlantic Sun Conference so far this season.


  • The Gamecocks return seven players who were mainstays in the top five pairs last season. All seven returners won 10 or more dual matches, and six won at least 15 matches.
  • 2017 will be the final go-around for the program’s first-ever freshman class. The group is made up of Erin Neuenfeldt, Helen Recaborde, Jade Vitt and Jordan Wilson-Talmadge.
  • Entering the fold this season are nine newcomers hailing from seven different states. Seven are freshmen, while two join the program as graduate transfers – Adrianna Culbert and Hannah Sorensen.
  • Three freshmen ended their high school careers with national honors. Carly Schnieder and Katie Smith earned a place on the AVCA High School Beach All-America Team, and Ali Denney made MaxPreps’ 2015 High School Small Schools All-American first team for her efforts during her senior indoor season.

Two Gamecocks have crossed the 50-win plateaus for the their careers here in the early going of 2017. Senior Jade Vitt became the second player in school history to break 50 after her win against Mercer on March 11, and junior Macie Tendrich followed right after with win No. 50 later that night over No. 11 Grand Canyon. Tendrich became the program’s first junior to reach 50 wins, after Sarah Blomgren and Vitt made the milestone as seniors.

For the third straight week, the Gamecocks were on the rise in the AVCA national rankings. After debuting at No. 15 on March 6, the team has now moved up to ninth heading into its fourth weekend of the season behind an 11-1 record and two wins over nationally ranked opponents. In the DiG Magazine Top-20 poll, Carolina also stands at the No. 9 position.

After finding tremendous success converting Wichita State indoor volleyball standout Katie Zimmerman to the beach last season, the coaching staff will try that same formula this season with Adrianna Culbert. While playing indoors for Colorado State, Culbert earned 2015 Mountain West Player of the Year honors and was a three-time AVCA All-Pacific North Region Team member for the Rams. Her experience indoors as a setter and pin hitter has prepared her well for the outdoor lifestyle, as Culbert has racked up a 10-2 record so far this season with partner Ali Denney (three wins in the 1s pair, seven in the 2s).

South Carolina’s 2017 slate will feature a number of brewing rivalries thanks to an expanded conference this season. The Coastal Collegiate Sports Association added two more programs this past fall, welcoming College of Charleston and UNC-Wilmington to push the conference up to 10 teams. The Gamecocks finished 5-5 in CCSA matches during the regular season, and made the semifinal round of the conference’s first-ever postseason tournament. Carolina is currently 4-1 in conference matches so far this season, with wins over College of Charleston, FIU, Tulane and UAB.

As the program heads into its fourth year, the competition level has been stepped up to another level. The Gamecocks have lined up seven regular season tournaments that will cover 30 duals. Of those 30 matches, eight are against opponents currently in the AVCA Coaches top-15, and 14 against teams in the current DiG Magazine top-20 poll. The highlight for the year comes this weekend at the Gamecock Grand Slam, where Carolina hosts the defending national champions Southern Cal, national runner-up Florida State, Georgia State (currently 9th in the AVCA poll) and Stetson (13th in the AVCA poll).

Freshmen Carly Schnieder and Katie Smith come to Carolina with accomplished prep careers on the beach. The duo won the AAU Jr. National Beach Volleyball Championship as well as the USA Volleyball Junior Beach Volleyball Tour Championship. For their efforts, Carly and Katie made the six-member AVCA High School Beach All-America Team. South Carolina Beach Volleyball now has three first-team All-Americans on the roster, as the two freshmen joined junior Julia Mannisto, who was on the four-member 2014 All-America team. South Carolina is the only school in the country to have three AVCA Beach All-Americans on their roster.


  • South Carolina holds a 50-36 all-time record, dating back to 2014.
  • The Gamecocks joined the CCSA for volleyball in 2016, and have an all-time conference record of 9-6.
  • In home matches at Wheeler Beach, Carolina is 27-8.
  • Moritz Moritz is entering his fourth season as head coach of the Gamecocks, spanning the young history of the program. He earned his 50th career win against UAB on March 19, 2017.