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Beach Volleyball Closes Regular Season at Home With Gamecock Grand Slam Tournament
Beach Volleyball  . 

Beach Volleyball Closes Regular Season at Home With Gamecock Grand Slam Tournament

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina beach volleyball brings the 2024 regular season to a close on its home sand this weekend, hosting the Gamecock Grand Slam April 19-20. The 20th-ranked Gamecocks will face Jacksonville and No. 10 LSU on Friday at 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., respectively, and then Coastal Carolina and No. 15 Georgia State at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Friday night’s matchup with LSU will also feature a pregame senior ceremony. The team will recognize six Gamecocks – Skylar Allen, Sophie Bengoechea, Allison Coens, Jillian Gleason, Hannah Mackenhausen and McKenzie Nichols.

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.


  • Riley Whitesides (court two), VB Trost (court five) and Julia Waugh (court three) each picked up their first career wins over ranked opponents in the morning dual against Stetson.
  • With her win on court three Saturday morning against Stetson, sophomore Jolie Cranford recorded her team-leading 18th victory of the spring, matching her freshman win total. She finished the weekend with three wins, making her the first Gamecock to reach 20 wins so far this season.
  • Hannah Mackenhausen won her 20th career match against a ranked opponent thanks to her three-set victory on court two vs. FAU, she moves into sole possession of seventh place for career ranked wins in program history. 
  • Mackenhausen’s first win of the weekend, vs. Stetson, was also her 80th career win overall, making her the fifth Gamecock in program history to reach the total.
  • Saturday morning was just the fourth win over Stetson in the all-time series (4-10, since 2016). The Hatters had won five of the last six duals.
  • Six of South Carolina’s 11 losses have come by a 3-2 margin, including four of those losses coming against nationally ranked opponents.


  • South Carolina leads the all-time series, 13-0 (Since 2016). In the last meeting, the Gamecocks won, 3-2 (March 2, 2024)
  • The Chanticleers have been red-hot as of late, winning 17 games in a row entering the weekend.
  • The success is fueled by a consistent lineup; Coastal Carolina has started the same pair in half its total games in four of the five positions of the lineup. Martine Kragholm/Sarah Riedell lead the way with 18 wins together on court one, including a dominating sweep of South Carolina in the previous meeting on March 2. 
  • The team is coached by two former Gamecocks – Sarah Blomgren and Collin Wilson.


  • Georgia State leads the all-time series, 12-7 (since 2014). Last time out between the two sides, the Panthers won, 3-2 (2/24/24).
  • The Panthers have won five in a row over South Carolina, with three of those five coming by 3-2 margins.
  • Georgia State comes into the weekend with wins in six of its last seven games and are ranked 15th in the latest national coaches poll.
  • The team is led at the top of the lineup by Angel and Bella Ferary, who have 19 wins on court one. Aree Keller and Lila Bordis have been the team’s most successful pair, going 21-8 on court two.


  • South Carolina leads the all-time series, 7-2. The Gamecocks won the most recent meeting, 5-0 (March 24, 2024).
  • Jacksonville’s last win in the series came in March of 2016. 
  • The Dolphins have won six of the eight duals since first facing South Carolina on March 24.
  • Olivia Szyszkiewicz and Anna Erickson solidify the team’s top pairing this spring. The duo have 12 wins together on court one, with top wins coming over Grand Canyon and FGCU.

NO. 10 LSU

  • LSU leads the all-time series, 16-2 (Since 2014). The Tigers won the most recent meeting, 5-0 (March 24, 2024)
  • This will be just the fifth time in the all-time series that LSU comes to Columbia. The Gamecocks have lost seven in a row to the Tigers, with only one of those matches at home.
  • The Tigers are 20-9 overall this spring and are ranked 10th in the national coaches poll.
  • The team has just one pair that has started in at least half its games to date, Reilly Allred and Parker Bracken on court two. They currently have a 20-7 mark together. LSU has four different players who have seen time at three or more positions in the lineup.

The Gamecocks enter the week ranked 20th 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. The team made it back into the rankings on April 16, following a weekend of wins over FGCU and No. 16 Stetson.

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 (132 career starts), Mackenhausen (123) and Coens (101), the remaining Gamecocks with the most matches played are Kennedy Westendorff (29) and Cranford (55). Out of the 19 women on the roster, 13 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 14-4 overall record, with her only losses coming to 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 3-6 in duals decided by a 3-2 margin, are 16-20 in three-set matches and have a 31-43 record in deuce sets (sets decided by the minimum of two points). The 20 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.

By comparison, in 2023, South Carolina was 5-4 in duals that had a 3-2 final score, had a 32-31 record in “deuce” sets 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 32 starts – 26 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 15 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 190-117 (.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).