Gamecock Beach Volleyball Celebrates its First All-Americans
Skylar Allen and Katie Smith were one of 32 student-athletes to be honored by the American Volleyball Coaches Association
LEXINGTON, KY. – The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced its ninth annual Collegiate Beach All-America Teams on Wednesday morning. South Carolina’s Katie Smith and Skylar Allen made the list of 16 individuals to be recognized as second team members, making them the first Gamecocks in program history to earn All-American honors.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve known how dynamic Skylar and Katie are and how well they can complement many different partners. We’ve seen them compete and win with other partners but ultimately they blossomed together,” head coach Moritz Moritz said. “It’s a relationship that weathered some storms but came together so well. What they gave each other this season was cultivated over time and when they were on, they rivaled anyone in the country.”
Few teams in the country could rival the final stretch of the season Allen and Smith enjoyed for the Gamecocks, as the two finished the season on a program-record 12-game win streak playing in the number one position of the lineup. Highlighting that streak was a 4-0 performance at the postseason conference tournament, which included wins over the number one pairs for No. 3 Florida State and No. 7 TCU. That earned them the AVCA’s National Pair of the Week award, which was also a first for the program.
For the spring, Allen and Smith boasted a 16-6 record together, all coming at the top pairing. Their .727 winning percentage is the highest for a single season by any Gamecock pair playing at No. 1. Highlighting that overall record is the fact that eight of those 16 total wins came against nationally ranked opponents and they finished with a 10-3 record in the top spot against conference rivals.
Individually, Allen finished her first full season with the team with a 22-10 overall record and 20-10 mark playing at number one. No other Gamecock individual in program history had more than 17 wins at number one entering this spring.
“Skylar maximizes everything she has, she is just a flat-out athlete. There are a lot of nuances that she is picking up on as she continues to evolve and it’s exciting to see her growth,” Moritz said. “She is gritty, intense and plays with a determination to win that pushes everyone around her. There is a fire to succeed and she holds herself to a very high standard. There is no ceiling for her potential over the next several years and it’s exciting to know that she will just continue getting better.”
After a 24-8 season as an individual in 2021, Smith ends her career at South Carolina with 96 career dual wins and 99 career wins overall – both are program records. Of those 96 dual wins, 37 came in the top pairing and 58 in the second pairing. Smith also leaves the program as its career leader in starts, wins over ranked opponents and wins over conference opponents.
“Reflecting on Katie over the span of the last 5 years, it’s hard to quantify the impact of who she really is as a beach volleyball player, as a competitor and most importantly as a person,” Moritz. “She is relentless, smart, savvy, and absolutely a force to be reckoned with. She’s been a rock for this team and this program and we are who we are in a large part because of her impact.”
“We’ve always known the quality of our team in the sand, the weight room, the classroom and the community and for Skylar and Katie to work as hard as they do each and earn this award is a testament to their determination,” Moritz concluded. “We’re proud of them for what they’ve accomplished and for the impact on our program they’ve had.”
As a team, South Carolina closed the season with a 23-9 overall record and the No. 17 spot in the national rankings. For continued updates on the team, follow @GamecockBeachVB on Twitter and Instagram.