Cedar Rapids Gazette
CEDAR RAPIDS — Before Tuesday, Miranda Greathouse and Ally Ferguson had never played beach volleyball together.
Now, they’re not strangers. The two Des Moines area natives have played in the same beach club together for years, they just have never competed as partners.
But on Friday at the Oasis Sandbar volleyball complex in northwest Cedar Rapids, Greathouse and Ferguson looked like old teammates. The pair defeated Mackenzie May and Hannah Grimm in three sets to win the gold medal match in the U-19 division of the USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Central Zone Championships, earning them a bid to the national meet at the end of July in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
“It’s amazing,” Greathouse and Ferguson exclaimed nearly simultaneously after their win. “I can’t believe it. It’s crazy.”
May and Grimm put up a fight in the championship match, though, taking the first set handily. Greathouse and Ferguson said after that first set, they were finally able to just settle in and tune everything else out.
“I think we were just getting the nerves out,” Ferguson said. “We made smarter decisions (after the first set). We kind of killed ourselves on our mistakes (in the first set).”
Now, the pair will get to match up against 15 other teams from around the world who have qualified for the national meet.
And while it would be nice for them to win the meet, there is a bigger opportunity to be had in California. Many college recruiters will be in attendance at the national meet, looking for talent.
Both Greathouse and Ferguson said they hope to play beach volleyball in college, but haven’t committed anywhere yet. Now that they’re headed to a recruiting hotbed, the two have a greater chance of getting noticed.
“It helps a lot,” Ferguson said. “Being from Iowa, you don’t get sand exposure. Big tournaments help a lot since we’re trying to play in college. It’d be very helpful, since most coaches aren’t going to fly (to Iowa) for one tournament.”
Now, the Iowa region is smaller than most — only boasting about 50 athletes. However, it is the first time the event has been hosted in the state, or even off the water.
Oasis Sandbar co-owner Melissa Duffield said she has high hopes for the event, and the facility, in the future.
“It’s just beginning,” Duffield said. “The qualifiers in California will have like 250 athletes get in to be able to compete. That is the vision of USA Volleyball in the Iowa region is to get to that level where we have kids coming from all over to want to compete. It’s new for them, but it’s all about growing the sport in a positive way.”
Even though the region is smaller — and most of the athletes don’t get to compete as long each year like their costal counterparts do — both Duffield and Greathouse said they were impressed with the talent they saw at the regional.
And after earning their nationals bid, Greathouse feels they’ll be able to match the talent they’ll see at the next round.
“I think we can hold our own.” Greathouse said. “We’ll be able to compete I think, but it’ll be hard. It’ll be a challenge, but we can do it.”
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