Collegiate Sand Championships Meet USC

May 02, 2014, 10:49 p.m. (ET)

Meet the 2014 Sand Championships Field – USC

We caught up with senior Kirby Burnham and Sara Hughes to talk about USC’s appearance in this year’s championship. Kirby won the pair title last year with then partner Robinson and as a senior is now playing with freshman Sara.

USA Volleyball: What’s the biggest advantage/disadvantage to having a first-round bye?
Sara: Being able to watch the teams. We’ll still come out here and watch and scout them to see what their tendencies are.

Kirby: Disadvantages, I’d say coming out prepared. These teams have already played, gotten the energy and have gotten the kinks out. We need to be able to come in strong.

What tips has Kirby offered the team about her title experience from last year?

Sara: The elements like weather and what it’s like here. It’s just another day of volleyball. Come out here and play our best and be aware of the wind. Last year it was super windy.

Toughest competition while you’re here?

Kirby: Ourselves, we are our own worst enemy. Playing in this weather too, we are used to playing in our stadium, which is by a parking lot so we get no weather at all. Practice today, there was no wind earlier and now there is a lot. The first year I was here it was sunny and no wind at all. Last year was pouring rain and wind. Now it’s somewhere in-between the two.

Hardest skill to hone for sand volleyball?

Kirby: To be focused. I lose focus and it’s only you and one other person out there. You have to be able to stay focused, especially if you’re being served every pass. You can get fatigued mentally.

Jessica: Ball control, especially for those coming from indoor. It’s only you and one other person on the court. You don’t have the advantage of just being an outside hitter and then go out before you pass. You have to learn how to pass, set and run down balls.

Most looking forward to while here at the championships?

Kirby: This is our second day here and we’re excited for tomorrow.

Sara: Winning!

You’re hunting for a team title and coming off a 2013 pair title. Is there a team motto for this year?

Sara: Fight on! That’s our USC motto.

Kirby: Our shirts say, ‘Keep fighting on’