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Mercer head volleyball coach Damian Elder took over the program last year. For the second time, Elder and the Bears are taking their game to the sand.

"The sand is heavy," said senior Jennifer Katona. "It's hard to move laterally, but it's hard for the opponent to move laterally, too."

Moving through sand is not the only difference. Only two players are on the court at a time. Five pairs play in a match. The first school with three victories wins the match.

With only one other player to work with, the girls have to do it all.

"To come out here and be able to do all the skills, it would be like asking a pitcher to play outfield. They don't do it," explained Elder.

"You really have to rely on that other person and make less mistakes individually," said senior Jamie Duffy. "You don't have anyone else to count on but your one partner."

Some schools recruit sand-only players. Mercer focuses on the indoor season, so playing teams with experience in the sand can be a challenge.

"Last year it was introduce everything that ever has to do with sand volleyball to everybody," said Elder. "This year we have some of the basics down."

"I'm really proud of what everyone's done," said Katona. "We have a lot of new players now, because we have freshman and people who weren't playing last season. We have a lot of really cool partnerships going on and a lot of skills that we've learned now that we definitely didn't have."

Mercer is still looking for their first win. The Bears are back home Friday, March 29 against North Florida at noon.

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