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Gamecocks Face Deep Field in Sugar Beach Bash Roadtrip
Beach Volleyball  . 

Gamecocks Face Deep Field in Sugar Beach Bash Roadtrip

YOUNGSVILLE, LA. – Fresh off a 7-1 home stand, South Carolina beach volleyball hits the road for the final two weekend of March, starting with the Sugar Beach Bash from March 15-16. Hosted by Southeastern Louisiana, the two-day tournament features duals against Tulane (10-4) and UAB (7-5) on Friday and Boise State (11-6) and the host Lions (6-3) on Saturday.

For continued updates on the team, follow @GamecockBeachVB on Twitter and Instagram.


  • Hannah Mackenhausen’s 105th career start, coming against North Florida, was the senior’s first in the number one pairing. Of her previous 104 appearances, 27 starts came at No. 2, 45 at No. 3, 27 at No. 4 and five at No. 5.
  • Skylar Allen’s sweep of Tennessee Tech Saturday morning was her 70th career victory. The graduate student is now the sixth member of the program to reach 70 wins.
  • South Carolina’s dual with Tennessee Tech is the first-ever meeting between the two programs. This is year two of the Golden Eagles’ beach volleyball team.
  • After dropping their lone three-set match of the day against UNF, the Gamecocks are now 4-13 in three-set matches through 10 games this season.
  • To add to the frustrations, the six sets the Gamecocks lost to the Osprey were all decided by the minimum two points. The Gamecocks are 7-19 in deuce sets this spring.
  • The loss to North Florida snaps a four-game win streak for South Carolina in the all-time series. The Osprey’s last win in the series also came on Wheeler Beach, back in 2016.
  • Four Gamecocks earned their first collegiate wins in the Sunday morning dual with New Orleans: sophomore VB Trost, freshmen Julia Waugh and Evie Ziffer, and graduate transfer McKenzie Nichols. The quartet won on four and five to stake the team a 2-0 lead.
  • Through the team’s first 12 matches, South Carolina has seven different players record their first career wins.
  • With two more wins Sunday, Hannah Mackenhausen and Riley Whitesides run their season record together to 10-2. The pair is on a nine-game win streak, losing three sets total during the run.



  • South Carolina leads the all-time series, 11-4 ( Since March 2015)
  • The Green Wave have taken the last two meetings by a 3-2 score, most recently on March 11, 2023.
  • Tulane enters the weekend with a 10-4 record and is eight votes shy of cracking the latest AVCA coaches top-20 poll.
  • The team returns a large group of returners, highlighted by 20-game winners from 2023, Savka Popovic and Lara Torruella. Popovic is in the two pair after going 22-6 last spring, Torruella has been a mainstay in the bottom three pairs throughout her career and continues to reap the rewards this spring on court three.
  • Tulane has benefitted from big jumps in production from sophomore Molly Trodd and junior Sara Hall this season so far. Trodd went 6-4 between courts four and five last season, Hall went 9-19 on court two last season, but the duo already has seven wins on the top court entering this weekend.


  • South Carolina leads the all-time series, 15-1 ( Since March 2014)
  • The Gamecocks won, 3-2 (April 7, 2023) and have won eight straight since UAB’s lone series win back in 2018.
  • The Blazers have one of their deepest rosters yet, returning their top three blockers as well as sophomore defender Jasmine Haas, the 2023 Conference USA Co-Freshman of the Year. She compiled the most wins by a freshman in program history with a record of 20-14, 14 of those wins coming on court one.
  • The team’s veteran blockers, Arden Copping, Jess Ennis and Brooke Pertuit, anchor each of the top three pairs with Copping and Haas on court one, Ennis and freshman Isabel Day on two and Pertuit and freshman Madeline Sigmon on three.
  • UAB is 7-5 for the season, splitting four duals at the TCU Horned Frog Challenge last weekend. The Blazers defeated UC Davis and Stephen F. Austin, but fell 3-2 to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and 5-0 to the host Frogs.


  • This is the first meeting between the two teams.
  • Boise State (7-5) is one of three teams from the Southland Conference that will face South Carolina this spring (along with New Orleans and Southeastern La.). This is the second season in the conference for the Broncos, who made the Southland tournament final last spring.
  • The Broncos are led by number one pair Marlayna Bullington and Sierra Land. Bullington joined the team this season after playing at Austin Peay, Land played all 35 matches in 2022 on the top court. So far this spring, the two are 9-3.
  • In the latest coaches poll, the Broncos are four votes shy of earning a spot in the top 20, sitting just outside as the top team receiving votes.


  • South Carolina leads the all-time series, 1-0 (3/5/23)
  • The first meeting between the two teams came on a neutral site, at LSU, last spring.
  • The Lions are off to a strong start, bringing a 6-3 record into the weekend with all six wins coming in a row. Last week, playing at home, the team won all three duals, taking down Central Arkansas, McNeese State and Spring Hill.
  • The team graduated its top two wins leaders from 2023, but are led by sophomore Mia McKinney. She won 12 matches as a freshman last spring, 10 coming on court one.

The Gamecocks enter the week unranked in the AVCA coaches top-20 poll. South Carolina peaked at No. 8 in the poll 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 (currently at .691). 

The Gamecock coaching staff are searching for a new look to the lineup as the spring gets underway. 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) and 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 (116 career starts), Mackenhausen (107) and Coens (86), the remaining Gamecocks with the most matches played are Rebeca Olariu (54, but only one start at South Carolina), Kennedy Westendorff (28) and Cranford (39). Out of the 20 women on the roster, 13 have started in 25 or fewer matches at the collegiate level.

The Gamecocks have four true freshmen on the roster, with three already with starts in the lineup entering the weekend. Abigail Lagemann (Benton, Ark.) leads the group with 10 total starts, spanning courts two, three and four. Evie Ziffer (Dallas, Ga.) has five starts, including three in the opening weekend of the season. She collected her first career wins last weekend at the Carolina Challenge, winning on court five with partner McKenzie Nichols. Julia Waugh (York, S.C.) made her debut last Sunday after a preseason injury slowed her progress. She went 2-0 in her first matches, pairing with VB Trost on court four.

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. So far this spring, the odds have decidedly not been in South Carolina’s favor.

It started in week one; 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. The luck reared its head again in the team’s 3-2 loss to North Florida on March 9; the six sets the Gamecocks lost to the Osprey were all decided by the minimum two points.

Overall through three weekends, the Gamecocks are 1-2 in duals decided by a 3-2 margin, are 7-13 in three-set matches and have a 7-22 record in deuce sets.

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.


  • Leading a dual 1-0: 7-0
  • Leading a dual 2-0: 7-0
  • Dual tied 1-1: 0-1
  • Leading a dual 2-1: 3-0
  • Trailing a dual 1-0: 0-5
  • Trailing a dual 2-0: 0-4
  • Trailing a dual 2-1: 0-4
  • Winning the First Set in a Match: 30-8
  • Losing the First Set in a Match: 4-18

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. 

Both have already made the lineup to start the year, Yamagata has started all 12 duals and Nichols cracked the lineup for the final two duals of the Carolina Challenge and defeated New Orleans and Eastern Kentucky with Evie Ziffer in the fifth flight.

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. She and partner Hannah Mackenhausen lead the team with 10 wins so far this spring, including nine in a row and the most recent three wins coming in the number one position.

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.


  • 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.


  • 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 180-111 (.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 84-27 (.757), 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 175th career win vs. Coastal Carolina on March 2, 2024.
  • 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).