Piedmont beach volleyball hitting in style in second season

Piedmont's beach volleyball team competed in their first tournament at Ocean Beach in San Francisco on Feb. 24. (Courtesy Piedmont Beach Volleyball)

Piedmont High School’s beach volleyball team is growing in its second year of existence. Justin Hoover has joined up as head coach and he is looking forward to a strong season for the Highlanders.

“It’s amazing the opportunity these kids have,” Hoover said. “A bunch of our girls have been taking beach classes. One-on-one coaching.

“I’m happy to see there’s a development. There are coaches, facilities that didn’t exist when I was their age.”

Hoover is 42 and bullish on the sport. He said beach players are different than indoor players although many of his players play in the indoor program in the fall.

Beach volleyball involves just two players on each team rather than indoor volleyball’s six. Players are forced to master more skills rather than specialize.

“A beach player is stronger in a different way because you’re dealing with the sand,” he said. “There’s a different sense of power. You get so many more touches so you have to be good at everything and be well-rounded.

“You have to be cool and confident in the head. It takes a different mindset. The beach player is much more physically fit. There’s no slack on a beach court. The sand requires you to move in a certain way and you have to adjust accordingly.”

Senior Sadie Town, one of the stars of the indoor team, will be one of the top players for the Highlanders.

“Sadie Town is just a banger,” Hoover said. “She can hit that ball is super-talented and a strong sand player.”

Seniors Bauer Peterson and Izzy Grimmer will definitely be a top team for Piedmont.

“They’ve been my No. 1 team right now,” Hoover said. “Bauer and Izzy have passion.”

Team players and Coach Justin Hoover on Feb. 24 (Courtesy of Piedmont Beach Volleyball)

Freshmen Fiona Olsen and Lily Izakson played together at an early-season tournament. Olsen had some beach experience but Hoover said that Izakson “had never touched the sand.”*

“To see her step on the sand court and she said, ‘Let’s go, what are the rules,’” Hoover said.

Clara Murphy and Stella Wilk also should be in the varsity rotation.

One issue for the team is the lack of practice space. The team works out on Piedmont High’s Burn Field at times, also travels to Northgame High School at other times and the Moraga Commons courts at others. Hoover would like to see a facility built in Piedmont, either by the city or the school district.

“There’s an injustice of equity,” he said. “Now it requires you to drive 45 minutes. If you don’t have a car or a mom or a dad who can drive you, you can’t participate.”

He said that he isn’t counting wins and losses, at least yet.

“I think that success is growing not only the team but growing the program,” Hoover said. “Finalizing a consistent practice facility. Getting the word out on it. We need to have a pipeline from the middle school to the high school. I want these people to have continuity to have the best program we can.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Lilly Perez played with Fiona Olsen. This article was updated on March 8.

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