Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 21, 2018

Drish competes in beach volleyball tourney

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Aug 10, 2017
Courtesy of: DIANA DRISH Danae Drish, fourth from left, poses with her Club Iowa Juniors teammates, including playing partner Madison Larson, third from left, at the ABT Beach Nationals in Tavares, Florida. Drish and Larson placed second in their division.

Danae Drish might as well carry a volleyball in her backpack as often as she hits one.

The incoming junior will be one of many stars on Fairfield’s varsity team this fall. But fall is not the only season Drish steps on the court.

When she’s not playing for the Trojans, Drish plays for Club Iowa Juniors, based in Waterloo. The club has an indoor season that starts in early January and runs through May, and a sand volleyball campaign in June and July.


National tournament

The club sent its members to a national tournament called the ABT Beach Nationals from July 26-28 at Hickory Point Beach in Tavares, Florida.

Drish and her partner Madison Larson of Independence, Iowa, placed second in the 17U High Performance Division with a match record of 4-3. The gold medal winners were fellow Club Iowa Juniors Halia Mahi and LeeAnn Potter.

Drish and Larson lost the two matches on their first day, but rebounded by splitting their matches 2-2 the second day and finished with a 2-1 showing the final day. The matches are best-of-three sets, shorter than high school’s best-of-five format.

“We were very tired by the end of the week,” Drish said.

Club Iowa Juniors co-director Chris Mahi said, “I could not be more proud of this group of kids and what they did at ABT Nationals! The conditions were the toughest, most extreme of any tournament we’ve ever entered. Temperatures in the sand reached 113 degrees on Day 1 and Day 2. All of our kids were so mentally strong and battled the conditions and their opponents.”

The national competition was the fifth time Drish and Larsons had played in a beach volleyball tournament this year. Drish travels to Waterloo two to three times per week, a few times for practice and then for tournaments on the weekends.

The schedule is nothing out of the ordinary for the Trojan youngster, who only takes two months off from volleyball during the whole year. In fact, Drish had one day off between her trip to Florida and the first day of practice at FHS.


Beach vs. gym

Drish explained that beach volleyball is quite different from indoor volleyball played on a hardwood floor. When played on the sand, only two players occupy each side, not six. Another big difference is that the sand court is 10 feet shorter, and setting the ball with an open hand is not allowed.

“There’s more work in beach volleyball, and I’d say it’s more fun,” Drish said. “You get more touches. Everything is about you and your partner. You can’t blame anyone else for your mistakes.”

Coaching is fairly limited in sand volleyball, too. At indoor events, coaches often yell instructions to the players, but on the beach, the players only talk to their coaches during timeouts. Even then, the coach has to worry about five other teams playing at the same time, so individual instruction is limited.

Don’t the players get tired of the sun and sand?

“We wear sunscreen so we don’t get burnt, and we wear sunglasses to keep the sand out of our eyes,” Drish said. “After awhile, you get used to the sand.”

Drish mentioned that most facilities have an outdoor shower, so the players don’t have to worry about tracking sand everywhere they go.


First FHS match

Fans of FHS athletics will have a chance to see Drish and the rest of the team play a scrimmage during Meet the Trojans at 7 p.m. Aug. 17 in the high school gymnasium. Their first match of the season is a home quad at 5:45 p.m. Aug. 24 against Albia, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont and Iowa Mennonite. The Trojans are coached by Danae’s mother, Diana Drish.

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