Playing the beach works for Warriors
BY Stephen Tsai
Hawai'i volleyball coach Charlie Wade believes a good volleyball foundation is built on sand.
It is why Wade, whose Warriors play Alberta tonight in a nonconference match, encourages his players to compete in two-players-to-a-side beach volleyball during the offseason.
What's more, according to Wade, playing on the beach can be more beneficial to training than regular indoor volleyball.
"It's just you and one other guy on your team," Wade said. "You're going to get more reps. You have to figure out how to compete. Anything you're good at, you're going to figure out. Anything you're not good at, the other people are going to figure out."
Playing beach volleyball helped setter Nejc Zemljak, who had to learn to set in windy conditions, and left-side hitter Joshua Walker, whose passing was the most inconsistent part of his game. Through numerous matches on Virginia's beaches, Walker has developed into dependable passer and defender.
The beach also has turned Brennon Dyer into a multi-skilled middle blocker. Dyer has a serve that can reach up to 65 mph, and the defensive skills to be a reliable passer in his one rotation turn in the back row.
At a little taller than 6 feet 4, Dyer is considered to be an undersized middle. But Wade said Dyer can handle the position's demands at the net. Dyer first showed his skills when he played against Stanford in an exhibition in November.
"The more things you can do for us, the more valuable you are," Wade said. "I don't want players to get into the I'm-a-right-front- or I'm-a-middle-front label. I ask them: 'What do you do really well?' Looking at what (Dyer) can do — the fast jump, the fast arm — yeah, he can play that position."
Dyer can touch 11 feet 8, one of the highest vertical reaches on the team. Dyer credits his jumping to hard work and playing on the beach.
Every summer, he rode his bicycle three miles to the beach.
"Beach volleyball helps everybody — from the technical part to tactically figuring out how to win to emotionally figuring out how to compete," Wade said. "There's a lot of value in playing beach. I'm an advocate of playing as much beach as you can."