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Beach Volleyball Returns Home for Palmetto Invitational
Beach Volleyball  . 

Beach Volleyball Returns Home for Palmetto Invitational

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina beach volleyball returns to Wheeler Beach in almost a month, hosting the Palmetto Invitational April 6-7. The two-day tournament features duals against UNCW (14-7) and UT Martin (9-9) on Saturday and Morehead State (6-6) and Mercer (15-11) on Sunday. The Gamecocks (11-9) play at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday.

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. Please refer to the athletics village parking guide site (updated weekly) for the most up-to-date information heading into Saturday.


  • South Carolina leads the all-time series, 13-0 (Since 2016). The Gamecocks won the last meeting, 4-1, at home (March 11, 2023).
  • The Seahawks have scored a point in four of the last five duals with South Carolina, but have only reached a 3-2 margin one time in the previous 13 meetings.


  • South Carolina leads the all-time series, 1-0. The Gamecocks won the lone meeting in the series, 5-0, on a neutral court (April 8, 2023).
  • The Skyhawks are the back-to-back defending champions of the Ohio Valley Conference and currently hold a one-game lead in the league standings.


  • South Carolina leads the all-time series, 1-0. The Gamecocks won the lone meeting, 5-0 (March 19, 2019).
  • The Eagles are one of four teams from the Ohio Valley Conference that play Carolina this spring. The Gamecocks already defeated Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech, and will also face UT Martin this weekend.


  • South Carolina leads the all-time series, 9-1 (Since 2014). The Gamecocks won the last meeting, 5-0, on a neutral court (March 19, 2023).
  • Mercer’s lone win in the series came in the very first meeting, back on March 11, 2014.

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 .661). 

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 (124 career starts), Mackenhausen (115) and Coens (93), the remaining Gamecocks with the most matches played are Kennedy Westendorff (28) and Cranford (47). Out of the 19 women on the roster, 11 have started in 20 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 12 total starts, spanning courts two, three, four and five. 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 on March 10 after a preseason injury slowed her progress, but has been one of the brightest spots in the lineup since her addition. She holds a 7-3 overall record, with her only losses coming to three ranked opponents.

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 losses to North Florida on March 9 and No. 18 Grand Canyon on March 23; the six sets the Gamecocks lost to the Osprey were all decided by the minimum two points and Grand Canyon won two three-set matches and clinched the dual with two deuce set wins on court three (21-19, 20-22, 20-18).

Overall through three weekends, the Gamecocks are 2-4 in duals decided by a 3-2 margin, are 11-17 in three-set matches and have a 19-32 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.

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 11 wins so far this spring, including four 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.


  • South Carolina holds a 184-115 (.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 46-39 (.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).