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Beach Volleyball Opens March With Wheeler Beach Bash
Beach Volleyball  . 

Beach Volleyball Opens March With Wheeler Beach Bash


COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Beach volleyball begins the month of March with its first home weekend of the spring, hosting the Wheeler Beach Bash. The tournament runs Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3 with matches against Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina, UNCW and College of Charleston.

This spring, attendance at home matches at Wheeler Beach is again free and open to the general public. Please continue to follow the athletics department’s clear bag policy. Fan entrance is only permitted on the north side of the facility through the main gate and only participating teams and game-day personnel are permitted on the sand surface. Fans are encouraged to park at metered spots around Heyward Street, pictured below. The gravel lot between Heyward Street and the outdoor tennis facility is only open when weather permits. Please refer to the athletics village parking guide site (updated weekly) for the most up-to-date information.


  • South Carolina lost seven of the 10 total matches in three sets on Friday. Six of those seven three-set losses came after the Gamecocks won the opening set of the match.
  • The Gamecocks saw all five courts go the distance in the loss to No. 11 FAU. The last time a Carolina dual had five three-set matches, it was March 18, 2023 when the team beat No. 5 LMU, 3-2.
  • Nine sets total were decided by the minimum two points on Friday, with the Gamecocks winning two of the nine. Three of the deuce scores came in third sets vs. FAU, all won by the Owls.
  • The team’s luck in three-set matches carried into Saturday’s duals, as Arizona State took a 2-0 lead in the team score with three-set victories on courts four and five and ended with a 4-1 final.
  • Skylar Allen and Allison Coens scored the team’s lone point in the dual with ASU, sweeping on court one. For Allen, it was her 20th career win over a ranked opponent. Only five other Gamecocks have as many ranked wins.
  • Four Gamecocks made their first starts in the Garnet and Black over the weekend: senior transfer Peyton Yamagata (at Nos. 1 and 2), freshman Abigail Lagemann (at Nos. 2 and 3), sophomore Morgan Downs (at No. 4) and freshman Evie Ziffer (at No. 5).
  • Yamagata previously played three seasons at TCU; her starts at No. 2 and No. 1 are the first time in her career playing in the top two positions of the lineup.
  • Tampa is coming off a championship season where it won the program’s third AVCA Division II National Championship, all coming over the last five seasons.
  • After missing the first dual of the weekend, Allison Coens entered the lineup at No. 1, making her first career starts in the top pairing.



  • This will be the first meeting between the two programs. Chattanooga debuted as a beach volleyball program in 2020 and the Mocs have increased their win total in each consecutive year, topping out at 19 in 2023.
  • Chattanooga was picked to finish second in the Ohio Valley Conference’s preseason coaches poll, placing four individuals on the conference’s preseason all-conference team.
  • In week one, the Mocs went 1-3 at the Jacksonville Invitational, defeating Palm Beach Atlantic but losing to Coastal Carolina, No. 13 FIU and Jacksonville. Paige Gallentine and Kaye Gresham picked up a ranked victory with a three-set win over FIU in the fourth flight.
  • Chattanooga returns all of its major contributors from last spring, including Neva Clark (17 wins at No. 1 in 2023), Joy Courtright (15 wins at No. 1), McKenna Faychak (15 wins at No. 2) and Maddie Lecik (16 wins at No. 2).


  • The Gamecocks lead the all-time series with Coastal, 12-0 (since 2016).
  • In the last meeting between the two teams, the Gamecocks won 3-2 (April 14, 2023).
  • Colin Wilson is in his first season as Coastal Carolina’s head coach, the program’s fourth in history. Previously, he served as assistant head coach for two seasons, helping secure 42 wins in 2021-2022. Wilson also spent a year as head coach at Southeastern Louisiana in 2023 before returning. Prior to coaching, Wilson was a team manager at South Carolina.
  • Coastal went 2-2 in the first weekend, defeating Jacksonville and Chattanooga at the Jacksonville Invitational. The team also came just shy of a ranked victory, losing 3-2 to No. 13 FIU.
  • The Chanticleers return three players who won 25 or more matches in 2023 (Madison Allred, Raychel Ehlers and Madie Lichty), as well as both players from their number one pair (Martine Kragholm and Sarah Riedell) which won 20 games in 2023.


  • The Gamecocks hold an undefeated record against the Seahawks, leading the all-time series 12-0 since 2016.
  • In the last meeting, South Carolina defeated the Seahawks 5-0 (March 11, 2023).
  • UNCW was picked to finish fourth in the Sun Belt Conference, behind Georgia State, Coastal Carolina and College of Charleston.
  • UNCW returns a number of key players from last spring’s 15-win campaign. Leading the group is Gabby LaPata, the Sun Belt rookie of the year in 2023. LaPata teamed with fellow returner Sadie Sharkey to win 16 matches at the top of the lineup.
  • The Seahawks opened their season with a home doubleheader sweep of conference rival College of Charleston, winning both duals by a 5-0 score.


  • The Gamecocks lead the all-time series, 16-2 (since 2014)
  • In the last meeting, South Carolina won 4-1 (April, 15 2023)
  • The Cougars increased their roster with the addition of two graduate transfers and six freshmen for the 2024 season.
  • The Cougars lost both members from their number one pair from 2023, but return three players who won 20 or more matches last year, led by Tynley Smeltzer.
  • One of the team’s graduate transfers, Julia Oravec (Central Arkansas) jumped into the top pair with Maria Zweig in week one, where the team dropped both duals of a doubleheader at UNCW.


  • The preseason CCSA all-conference team was announced on Wednesday, Feb. 21, with a pair of Gamecocks making the squad. Skylar Allen and Hannah Mackenhausen represented South Carolina on the 10-member team, with senior Sophie Bengoechea earning the conference’s fan-voted player of the year recognition. Allen was one of five unanimous selections
  • This spring, the Gamecocks face eight of the 16 teams from the 2023 NCAA tournament field.
  • In the fall exhibition season, South Carolina sent two pairs to the AVCA Collegiate Pairs Championship, hosted at John Hunt Park in Huntsville, Ala. from Nov. 3-5 – senior Skylar Allen and sophomore Jolie Cranford, and graduate student Allison Coens and senior Rebeca Olariu. Allen and Cranford finished as the runners-up in the consolation bracket, finishing the weekend with a 5-3 record. Coens and Olariu finished with a 2-5 record.
  • In the weekend prior, at the AVCA National Qualifier tournament – also held in Huntsville – Allen and Cranford finished third out of 26 pairs to earn South Carolina the second bid to the national championship. The two went 5-1, with the only loss coming to the eventual tournament winners from LSU.

For the first time since March of 2017, the Gamecocks enter a week unranked in the AVCA coachest top-20 poll. South Carolina peaked at No. 8 in the polls in 2018 and checked in at No. 17 in the February 16 preseason poll, the 74th weekly rankings in a row in the coaches poll. After a 0-4 first weekend, though, the team dropped out of the top-20 for the first time since the current freshman class was in middle school.

Over the last five completed seasons (2017, ‘18, ‘19, ‘21, ‘22, and ‘23), South Carolina averages around 15 duals played against ranked opponents per season. Of the team’s 32 duals on the schedule in 2024, 11 are against teams ranked in the preseason poll and seven more against teams receiving votes in the poll.

South Carolina’s record book may look a little different in May, if Skylar Allen and Hannah Mackenhausen have anything to say about it. The two standouts are nearing a handful of career records as they kick off their final seasons in Columbia. Allen, who already is a two-time all-american, is coming off a 2023 season where she and partner Simone Priebe became the first Carolina pair to win 20 games in the number one position. Mackenhausen, perhaps the most underrated defender in collegiate beach volleyball, is coming in on the heels of back-to-back 20-win seasons and owns one of the highest winning percentages in program history (at .674). 

Entering the opening weekend of the season, the Gamecock coaching staff are searching for a new look to the lineup. The team lost nine players who recorded at least one win in the lineup in 2023 and half of its starting lineup from the 2023 CCSA conference tournament, most notably Simone Priebe (20-10 at No. 1), Lauren Wilcock (17-8 overall), Kaeli Crews (17-14 overall). The team does return three 20-game winners in Skylar Allen, Hannah Mackenhausen and Allison Coens, as well as CCSA All-Freshman team honoree Jolie Cranford. Also in the mix for increased time in the lineup are six Gamecocks who made at least one start during the 2023 campaign.

There is a sizable disparity on the roster when it comes to experience; outside of Allen (108 career starts), Mackenhausen (99) and Coens (78), the remaining Gamecocks with the most matches played are Rebeca Olariu (54, but only one start at South Carolina), Kennedy Westendorff (28) and Cranford (31). Out of the 20 women on the roster, 14 have started in 20 or fewer matches at the collegiate level.

With the sport of beach volleyball as competitive as ever, a point here or there can make all the difference in a team’s postseason aspirations. In week one, the odds did not come out in South Carolina’s favor. Over the four duals at the Tampa Invite, the team went to three sets in 10 of the 20 total matches, including all five courts in the team’s game against No. 11 FAU. Of those 10 three-set matches, the Gamecocks went 1-9. On top of that, the team had 15 “deuce” sets (scores decided by the minimum of two points) over the four games and lost 10 of those sets and five of those 10 lost came in the third set. 

In 2023, South Carolina was 5-4 in duals that had a 3-2 final score, had a 32-31 record in “deuce” sets (sets decided by the minimum of two points) and held a 21-20 record for individual matches that went to three sets.

Over the summer, the Gamecocks added a pair of transfers from TCU to the roster. Joining the team are senior Peyton Yamagata (Ashburn, Va.) and graduate student McKenzie Nichols (Southlake, Texas). Yamagata spent three seasons with TCU’s beach team, making the starting lineup 16 times with a 13-3 record in those matches. Her best season was in 2022, when she was 10-1 as a sophomore. 

Nichols played exclusively with the indoor team at TCU, leaving the program ranked fifth in its history for career assists (2,692) while playing in 99 career matches over four seasons. During her high school career, however, Nichols was an accomplished beach volleyball player, highlighted by a Beach Volleyball Clubs of America (BVCA) national title in the 14U Gold division in 2015. 

There will be a pair of two-sport athletes on the roster this spring, with junior Hanna Bissler and senior Riley Whitesides stepping over from indoor volleyball to beach. Bissler (Chardon, Ohio) transferred to South Carolina over the summer after two seasons at Miami (Fla.). In the fall, she played in all 27 games for the team, appearing in 93 total sets as a defensive specialist and libero. Whitesides joined beach last spring for the first time and made more starts in the exhibition pairing than anyone else on the roster. At the Tampa Invite, she and partner Hannah Mackenhausen led the team with two wins, coming against Tampa and No. 12 Georgia State.

Prior to Whitesides last spring, the most recent Gamecock to compete as both an indoor and beach volleyball player was Jess Vastine (2017-21), who finished with a career record of 52-41.

The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced its annual Team Academic Award recipients over the summer, and South Carolina was one of 46 Division I beach programs to be recognized. The Gamecocks stand as one of only three beach programs in the country to own a streak of nine seasons in a row making the list, joining Georgia State and Stanford. 

Carolina is also one of just 11 Division I beach programs to be part of the Honor Roll, given to teams in the top 20 percent for team GPA in each division. The team is part of an exclusive group with academic and on-court success, as it is one of four beach volleyball programs to be in the honor roll while also being ranked in the top 20 of the final AVCA coaches poll of the 2023 season. Individually, every member of the team made either the SEC’s Spring or First-Year Honor Rolls and four Gamecocks made the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association’s All-Academic team.

In the fall, beach volleyball recorded a cumulative team GPA of 3.73, the second highest in the department.


  • Skylar Allen and Simone Priebe were one of 16 total pairs to earn All-America honors by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.  It was Allen’s second time making the team, for Priebe it was her first. It is just the second time in program history that South Carolina collected a postseason all-American certificate from the sport’s governing body.
  • Allen and Priebe also earned all-conference honors from the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association. They finished the season with a 20-10 overall record, playing exclusively in the number one position in the lineup. The pair are the first in program history to reach 20 wins on court one in a single season.
  • Carolina finished its 10th season as a varsity sport with a 19-12 overall record.  Carolina has won at least 60 percent of its matches in 7 of its 10 seasons.  The Gamecocks finished the season 17th in the final AVCA Beach Top-20 poll.
  • With a sweep of Southeastern Louisiana on March 5, junior Hannah Mackenhausen moved to 50 career wins, making her the 11th member of the program to reach the career milestone. On the way to her 50 wins, Mackenhausen carried a .685 win percentage. 
  • Skylar Allen joined the 50-win club thanks to a sweep of Stephen F. Austin on March 10, recording a career win percentage of .595 on the way to 50. Allen made it to 50 wins the hard way – she was making her 71st start in the No. 1 position when she recorded her 50th win.
  • Kaeli Crews and Hannah Mackenhausen hit a milestone win on March 25 against Houston Christian. The duo are just the fifth Gamecock pair in program history to reach 25 career wins together, and their current total of 28 wins currently ranks fourth.


  • South Carolina holds a 173-110 (.620) all-time program record, dating back to 2014.
  • The Gamecocks joined the CCSA for volleyball in 2016, and have an all-time conference record of 46-36 (.561).
  • In matches at Wheeler Beach, Carolina is 77-26 (.748), including a 19-8 record against CCSA conference opponents.
  • Moritz Moritz is in his 11th season as head coach of the Gamecocks, spanning the entire young history of the program. He earned his 100th career win vs. Texas A&M-Kingsville on April 6, 2019.
  • South Carolina has two postseason tournament appearances, making the NCAA eight-team field in 2017 and 2018.
  • The Gamecocks have two all-americans in program history: Katie Smith (2021) and Skylar Allen (2021 and 2023).