OWINGS MILLS — The sunshine, slight breeze and sand courts gave the campers at Dave Trumbo's inaugural beach volleyball camp a fine resemblance of what to expect in real competition — the only thing missing at Stevenson University was the ocean.
Trumbo, the head coach of the Mustangs' Division III volleyball team, worked with Stevenson athletic director Brett Adams to spearhead the push for a beach volleyball program at the university. Stevenson became the first D-III school in the country to field a beach volleyball team when the program was established two years ago.
"We're starting to create a market of beach players here," Trumbo said. "Northern Virginia, southern Pennsylvania, they have little pockets of beach players but we don't have anything around here. We have some recruits here but 40 percent are Carroll County kids, higher-level Carroll County players who are curious and want to try something new.
"They want to improve their skills and get plenty of touches because it's doubles. I thought, well what the heck, I'll try it."
A change of surface isn't the only difference between indoor volleyball and beach volleyball. Beach courts are smaller and the volleyballs are lighter, but generally bigger than those used indoor. Indoor volleyball is played with six players per side, but beach is limited to doubles and is not position specific.
Scoring is also different between the two — indoor matches are played in a best-of-five series of sets, or games, and the first team to reach 25 points wins the set. Teams play a best-of-three series in beach volleyball and each game is played to 21 points. The third set is a tiebreaker, if necessary, and it is played to 15 points, similar to that of indoor.
Trumbo's camp is intended for athletes in grades 10-12 or experienced club players entering eighth or ninth grade, he said — it started Tuesday and concluded Thursday. Grace Chaffee, a volleyball player at Tully High School in Syracuse, N.Y., made the trip to Stevenson for the inaugural camp after receiving an invite from the coaching staff.
"The coaches seem to know a lot about the sport and the players know a lot too," Chaffee said. "It's a fairly new program so it's a really good camp. It's relaxed and I'm learning a lot."
Kristin Vaeth and her twin sister Kayla, rising juniors at Winters Mill, previously attended Trumbo's indoor volleyball camps and when talk of a beach volleyball camp occurred, the girls were intrigued to see what it would entail. Vaeth said her experience at Trumbo's camp has been great so far, but playing with her sister adds to the enjoyment.
"I think this will definitely allow girls to play more beach volleyball and open up more pathways for girls to play," Vaeth said. "Some girls don't know if they like it or not and might want to try it, but there's no beach volleyball camps around here and since this is newer, if girls want to play, they can come here to try it out. If they like it, they can get more involved in the sport, so I think it's a very good introduction to start."
Before he came to Owings Mills, Trumbo coached at Liberty High School for 11 seasons and led the Lions to state championships in 2003 and 2004.
Liberty went 167-31 with Trumbo as its coach before he moved into the college ranks. The Mustangs have 279 wins under Trumbo, who led Stevenson to a 26-8 record last fall and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
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The Mustangs' beach volleyball team completed their second season as a varsity program this spring, going 14-11. The roster insluded former Carroll standouts Sara Bollinger (Winters Mill), Sam Compton (Francis Scott Key), Victoria Prokic (Century), and Lauren Weaver (South Carroll).
Trumbo said they mainly play D-I caliber teams and took extended trips this year to tournaments and showcases in Florida and North Carolina — the Mustangs also hosted the Stevenson Invitational to close out the season.
"Beach volleyball is all about skills," Trumbo said. "Being able to pass, being able to serve, put up a good second ball. The thing with beach is, you're touching the ball every other time — exponentially more touched than you would in indoor. There is no hiding, there is no subbing out. If you get injured, they wait five minutes and if you can't get back up, you forfeit.
"Everybody has learned a lot, it's been fun. Indoor, they're pretty athletic and pretty competitive. They want to learn and they want to win, plus they're best friends."