Summer, some say, is for traveling.
Aubrey Ezell will certainly attest to that.
The Granbury High junior volleyball player has spent the past several summers going coast-to-coast for tournaments, and this year is no different.
Ezell’s travels this summer have taken her to California, Las Vegas, Alabama and Georgia, just to name a few places.
Beginning Saturday, she will be in Milwaukee for the USA Volleyball Junior Beach Tour Championships. Her team, 692 Dallas, will be competing in the 16-Under Division in the two-day tournament.
And while Ezell’s resume includes playing in MANY tournaments, Beach Nationals will be a first for her.
“I am real excited,” she said. “Beach volleyball is so much fun. I love volleyball. I couldn’t decide if I had to choose indoor volleyball or beach.”
In beach volleyball – or sand volleyball, as some refer to it – made even more popular in recent years by becoming an Olympic sport, the competition is 2-on-2. That, Ezell said, should help her greatly when she returns to try and lead the Granbury Lady Pirates to a fifth consecutive postseason appearance beginning next month.
“Beach helps you with your smarts,” she said. “It helps my vertical leap a lot. It also helps with communication indoor, because you have to talk a lot during beach volleyball since there are only two of you on the court.”
Granbury Lady Pirate coach Tammy Clark said those are among the reasons beach volleyball has grown in popularity. She also stressed the ball-control aspect of the beach game as being critical.
“It’s death if you can’t pass in sand volleyball,” said Clark. “You can pick apart a team if one of the two players is weak at any single skill. To be successful in sand you have to be good at all skills.”
Clark also said the ability to read the ball is a must in the sand game.
“Two people have to cover the entire court, so you get very good at seeing where the ball is going before it gets there,” she said.
Beach volleyball is now also sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
“It’s definitely benefited us a high school team to have players in club (indoor) and sand volleyball,” Clark said.
Something else beach players have to sometimes contend with is weather, which of course will never be a problem indoors, Ezell said.
“You’ve got wind, and it could even rain during your game,” she said.
“We have our glasses on, so our eyes are protected. We just get to play in the mud.”
Ezell has enjoyed much success on both the indoor and sand courts this summer, including her team winning the Silver Bracket in the recent USA Junior National Championships in Dallas.
For the Lady Pirates, she was the District 7-4A Newcomer of the Year in 2011 and first-team all-district last season.
Her ultimate goal, however, is to someday play in the Olympics – and beyond.
“Of course, I dream of the Olympics,” she said. “I also want to go pro, maybe play somewhere overseas. I can’t see my life without volleyball.”
That, of course, will mean even more traveling, which she says never grows tiring.
“You have to be disciplined with your schedule, and I am doing what I love, so it’s never a problem to travel to get to do that,” she said.
“Even when I’m not somewhere playing volleyball, even if I’m at home, I grab a volleyball and play around in the backyard.
“There’s just no keeping me away from it.”
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