Even though Chloe Lance is a beach volleyball player, she admits she hasn’t watched a single match from the Olympics this past week.
It’s not that she doesn’t have interest—she simply doesn’t have the time.
“I don’t have time to watch anything,” she laughed. “I’ve been so busy.”
It is the sport of volleyball that is swallowing all of the West Forsyth senior’s free time, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. Since the sixth grade Lance has been committed to the sport, and her involvement has increased exponentially each year.
This past offseason she tried something new. Knowing she’d have a greater role on West’s varsity team this fall she looked into competing in two-vs-two beach volleyball—a much more trying and mentally exhaustive version of the sport she loves. So, she joined the sand division of A5 Volleyball, the club she has competed with throughout her high school career.
On the sand, moving is harder, diving is more necessary and the ability to get up and down and stay mobile is vital to staying in a match. As well, with only two players instead of six the communication with your partner is key.
The transition was scary at first for Lance, but once she got into it she started to reap the benefits.
“I feel like since doing beach I’ve gotten a lot better defensively,” Lance said. “You just have to be so much more involved in the action, running all over the place, getting more vocal with your partner. It’s a lot of fun but it’s very different.”
Lance wants to improve her defensive skills and leadership qualities—in fact, she doesn’t have much of a choice. West graduated nine seniors from last year’s club, including major pieces in outside hitter Taylor Ashcraft and setter Jordan Leitch.
Now Lance steps into the role as West’s primary outside hitter after finishing second on the team with 301 kills last year, while defensive setter Emma Bernardez is the only other rising senior in the team’s starting core. Lance also had a strong 37.8 kill percentage, despite missing over a week during big region matches with a lacerated foot from a non-sports accident.
“That was hard. I want to get my hit percentage up actually. I didn’t get a full region season in last year and it was hard having to sit and watch. I didn’t enjoy that very much,” Lance said.
But, Lance is focused more on her seniority than her skillset.
“I’ve got a lot on my back this year,” Lance said. “Last year we had nine seniors so I wasn’t really a big part of the team. This year is a big jump. We are definitely trying to make sure the younger kids are involved as much as possible and working with them a lot.”
During Monday’s practice, Lance and a few other varsity players stood out in the crowd amongst a gym full of West volleyball players from the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams. When the practice was over the varsity stuck around to help coach the middle schoolers.
It’s clear that West is working to compete in a region that includes state runner-up South Forsyth and Lambert, another strong playoff team. Lance, who plans on retiring from competitive volleyball to focus on school at the University of Georgia or Georgia College, has that in mind as well. She wants to give everything she can to the program in her final season.
“Since I’ve played so long it’s sad to think sometimes about it, how it’s all coming to an end,” Lance said. “I definitely want to make sure I get the most out of this year.”