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Gamecocks Prep for Big Weekend at Burrow Beach Bash
Beach Volleyball  . 

Gamecocks Prep for Big Weekend at Burrow Beach Bash

BOCA RATON, FLA. – South Carolina beach volleyball carries a five-game win streak into an important weekend on the road, heading down to Boca Raton for Florida Atlantic’s Beach Burrow Bash tournament. Running Saturday to Sunday, the tournament pits the Gamecocks (15-9) against No. 14 FIU, No. 16 Stetson, the eighth-ranked host Owls and Florida Gulf Coast.

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


  • Junior Kristen Schenck made her first career start in the evening dual with UT Martin. Out of a roster of 19 women, she is the sixth Gamecock to earn their first career start this season.
  • Senior Peyton Yamagata played with her sixth different partner of the season in the UNCW dual, pairing with Sophie Bengoechea. Yamagata has at least one start in all five positions in the lineup.
  • VB Trost and Morgan Downs are the 11th different pairing to represent the Gamecocks on court four this season. Despite the shifting lineups, the team holds an overall record of 14-8 in the fours.
  • The two Saturday wins move the team to 9-1 at home so far this spring. Only the 2016 (14) and 2018 (11) teams have more wins on Wheeler Beach in a single season.
  • A day after making her first collegiate start, junior Kristen Schenck collected her first win Sunday morning against Morehead State. She is the eighth Gamecock to earn their first win with South Carolina this spring.
  • Kennedy Westendorff made her first start of the spring in the morning dual with Morehead State. The junior has worked through lingering issues this season, after making 24 starts in 2023. With her addition to the lineup, 17 of the 19 women on the roster have made at least one start so far this season.
  • The team’s 11 home wins in 2024 tie it with the 2018 team for second-most in a single season in program history. Only the 2016 squad has more wins on Wheeler Beach in a single season, with 14.
  • With a morning sweep of Morehead State, graduate student Skylar Allen won her 80th career match. She is just the fourth Gamecock in program history to reach that total and first since 2021 (Katie Smith and Carly Schnieder).


  • The Gamecocks lead the all-time series, 8-3 (since 2014)
  • FAU snapped a six-game losing streak with wins over North Florida and North Alabama to close out its weekend at Florida State’s Unconquered Invitational tourament (April 5-6). The Owls are ranked 18th in the latest AVCA coaches top-20 poll.
  • The Gamecocks and FAU met earlier this year at the Tampa Invite (Feb. 23). South Carolina won the first set in four of the five matches but could not convert any of the early success into match wins. The Owls won all five courts in three sets, including third set scores of 16-14 on court one, 17-15 on court three and 19-17 on court five.
  • The team is led by sophomore Ashleigh Adams and junior Julie Honzovicova, the pair have won six matches in a row together, coming over national powers like UCLA, LMU and Cal.


  • The Gamecocks lead the all-time series, 5-2 (since 2016). The two teams have split 3-2 decisions in the most recent meetings.
  • FGCU holds a 13-15 overall record coming into the weekend, but have battled through a tough schedule to date. The Eagles have played 15 ranked opponents in those 28 games, including 10 in the last three weekends of competition alone. Along the way, the team picked up strong wins over FIU, Georgia State, North Florida and Tampa.
  • The team is led by number one pair Sheby Beisner and Trinity Rosales. The senior duo are 17-11 this spring in the top spot, picking up big wins over LSU, Stetson, Georgia State, Washington and Arizona State all within the last few weeks.


  • South Carolina holds a 6-5 advantage in the all-time series (since 2014), with the two teams trading wins back and forth over the last six matchups.
  • FIU is ranked 14th nationally with a 16-9 overall record, with its top wins to date coming against FAU and LMU. The Panthers went 2-2 in their last tournament, with wins over UAB and North Alabama.
  • Giada Bianchi and Reka Orsi Toth have set the tone for the team all spring, holding a 21-2 overall record in the top pairing of the lineup. The duo’s lone losses came at the hands of No. 1 Southern Cal and No. 5 TCU. The number two pairing of Lisa Luini and Alicia Pratesi haven’t been too far behind, holding a 14-7 record together with recent wins over LMU and TCU.


  • Stetson leads the all-time series, 10-3 (since 2016), including wins in five of the last six duals.
  • The team comes in at 16 in the latest coaches poll, holding a 16-7 overall record. Stetson has ranked wins over Georgia State, Arizona and Grand Canyon over the last two weekends of competition.
  • The Hatters returned a number of top performers from 2023’s NCAA tournament squad, headlined by Shae Henson in the number one pairing. Though her partner from last season left, she remains a fixture at the top of the lineup, currently holding a 13-10 record at No. 1 with partner Tori Clement.

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. 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 .664). 

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 (128 career starts), Mackenhausen (119) and Coens (97), the remaining Gamecocks with the most matches played are Kennedy Westendorff (29) and Cranford (51). Out of the 19 women on the roster, 14 have started in 30 or fewer matches at the collegiate level.

The search for production has been thorough; following Westendorff’s season debut on April 7, 17 of the 19 women on the roster have made at least one start so far this season. With junior Kristen Schenck earning her first career collegiate victory in the dual with Morehead State on April 7, she became the eighth Gamecock to earn their first win with South Carolina so far this spring.

The Gamecocks have four true freshmen on the roster, with three already with starts in the lineup entering the weekend. Abigail Lagemann (Benton, Ark.) has 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 11-3 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).

Entering this weekend, the Gamecocks are 2-4 in duals decided by a 3-2 margin, are 12-18 in three-set matches and have a 27-36 record in deuce sets. The 18 three-set losses already ranks fifth-most in a single season in program history and the team’s .400 win percentage in three-set matches is the lowest in a single season.

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. 

Entering this weekend, the two have combined to make 28 starts – 22 for Yamagata and six for Nichols.

There are 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 last 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 rank second on the team with 14 wins so far this spring, including four 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.


  • 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.


  • South Carolina holds a 188-115 (.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 (.541).
  • In matches at Wheeler Beach, Carolina is 88-27 (.765), 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).