Friday, April 20, 2012

FGCU and Sand Volleyball A Family Tradition for Holly Youngquist

Four and a half years ago, Brooke Youngquist was completing her career as a standout volleyball player for Florida Gulf Coast University. A member of the inaugural team at FGCU, Brooke finished her four-year career as the team's career leader in kills with more than 1,000 kills and digs. FGCU was a NCAA Division II member in her first three seasons and became a Division I school during her senior year. As a junior, Brooke was named the AVCA South Region player of the year. She was also selected as an Atlantic Sun Conference second-team player in her senior season.

Also during her senior season, Brooke began to take an interest in sand volleyball. Once her indoor collegiate career was over, her passion for the game heightened to the point that she became a regular on the AVP Tour. Now Brooke Youngquist Sweat, she has also enjoyed some success on the sand/beach volleyball tour. She advanced to her first main draw in what was her 10th tournament on the AVP Tour and chalked up her first career main draw match win in the 2009 Manhattan Beach Open. Also in 2009, Sweat and Tealle Hunkus were named to the USA Volleyball Under-26 beach volleyball national team.
Holly's sister, Brooke Youngquist Sweat.

Fast-forward four and half years, and younger sister Holly could be following in her sister’s footsteps. Holly followed Brooke to FGCU, passing on offers to play indoor volleyball elsewhere to stay at home. The senior has enjoyed a successful career of her own, earning membership to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team in 2008, Second Team All A-Sun honors in 2010, Second Team membership to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 2010-11 Women's Volleyball Teams and was a selection to the Preseason All-Conference team this season.

“My decision to go to FGCU was both easy and difficult, but I chose to follow in my sister’s steps. I don’t regret my decision one bit. I passed on offers to go to other schools, but coming to FGCU was a wonderful decision. I have had a great time growing up with these girls and now getting to know the newer ones as I am on my way out. I wanted to come and leave a legacy like my sister.”

Ironically, it is in Holly’s senior season that she has taken to sand volleyball as well, due in large part to Brooke’s influence.

She started playing about four and a half years ago. It was during her senior year and she got into it, and then she got me into it,” says Holly. “We found about the Dig the Beach tour in Florida and got really excited about playing. We both started playing in random tournaments and she obviously caught onto it more because her indoor career was over. We played together in one tournament, and we had a blast. We almost beat the number one seed. I had never really played sand volleyball before, and I was only 19 years old.”
Playing in her first sand volleyball season in the A-Sun, Holly is still experiencing the difficult transition from indoor court volleyball to sand.
“It is a totally different game,” she says. “You have to play every position, not just the one that you have in indoor. I can’t be strictly a libero, I have to learn how to set and hit too, so that is another thing that we are learning in the transition.”
Youngquist also points out the physical challenges that come with sand volleyball.
“Indoor court players aren’t used to playing in the heat, we are always indoors. Plus, the sand is much tougher to move in. On the indoor court you are able to change directions in an instant, but you don’t have that advantage on sand. It is so much harder to move, you get stuck and you just have to do your best to keep going. Every court, every condition is different, so you just have to keep doing what you can and never give up.”
So as Holly wraps up her career at FGCU and continues down the learning curve into sand volleyball, has big sister Brooke provided any words of wisdom?
“We talk about it sometimes. One thing she says is to never give up. If you see a ball you can always run it down, no matter if you are on the other side of the court,” says Holly. “She is very good about that because she is so explosive on the sand, it’s like all of us on indoor. She does that so well. Then too for her it is about hitting shots. She hits the same shot 200 times in practice and just makes sure that she gets it every single day.”
At this point in her career, Holly isn’t sure what the future holds for her. With still more sand volleyball to play over the next two days, she will take the experience and skill that she has learned with indoor and sand volleyball and try to help propel FGCU toward a championship.
“I felt very comfortable indoor, just playing libero. Out here is so much different, but I love them both because they are both such different games. I just want to be the best at what I can do,” she says.

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