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SANDCAST: For Corinne Quiggle, home is wherever the beach volleyball is

HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. — There are a number of tangible skills in which Corinne Quiggle is objectively proficient, if not an expert. She’s a fantastic passer. Just check with any of her former teammates at Pepperdine for confirmation. She sides out well. Ask any of the many teams who have fallen before her since she began playing professionally full time in 2019. She sets consistently, something her current partner, Sarah Schermerhorn, can confirm.

And yet it is possible that it is the intangibles that allow Quiggle to thrive in the manner she has in the past two seasons, years in which she has won a pair of international medals — one gold, one silver, both with Allie Wheeler — qualified for her first four-star event, took a top-10 in another four-star, and put together seven consecutive top-10 professional finishes. You can pass and set and side out all you want on the AVP and Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour, but at the end of the day, as Quiggle said on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter, “you have to be good at finding a way.”

Few are better at doing just that. Follow her or any of her partners on social media for long enough, and you’ll quickly become accustomed to the astounding streak of bad luck when it comes to traveling with Corinne Quiggle. Flights will cancel. Get rebooked. Delays will cause connections to leave without her. Peruse her airline accounts, and what you’ll find is a rather large number of credits atoning for missed or canceled flights.

It’s all par for the course in beach volleyball. Quiggle isn’t an exception here. It’s just that where many would get agitated, bothered, cranky, and allow that to translate to a reduced quality of play on the court, Quiggle embraces it with a laugh and a smile. Just another story for another tournament.

“I’m pretty good at sleeping on planes, airports, floors, whatever,” she said.

True enough, after a lengthy ordeal prior to a one-star in Bulgaria in 2021, in which Quiggle’s flight was canceled and rescheduled and power went out in LAX and she was given a handwritten ticket — handwritten, in 2021! — she promptly qualified and won her first gold medal.

It would be wrong to call it mental toughness, because there is no gritted teeth involved with Quiggle and her misadventures. It’s an indefatigable passion for the sport that makes Quiggle almost oblivious to what many would describe as travel disasters. It’s why, during a NORCECA that served as a qualifier for World Championships that quickly became a calamity and put on blast by Taylor Crabb, Quiggle shrugged it off. Sure, it was dumping rain. Sure, it would have been awfully nice to play on the fluffy white sands of Punta Cana as opposed to the concrete of Santo Domingo. Sure, it would have been great if Schermerhorn’s back hadn’t been thrown out during an AVPNext in Panama City Beach the week prior, and Quiggle didn’t have to try any manner possible to score.

But Quiggle didn’t mind any of it. She wouldn’t even have minded playing the finals, should it have been required.

“I said if we aren’t going to get first, I want to play,” she said. Because of course she did. She’s a competitor, through and through. She sees those myriad obstacles and sees not problems, but opportunities. She sees a month on the road — in Doha, Austria, Turkey, Greece, the Czech Republic, New Orleans — away from family and friends and home and a sublime routine that involves training and surfing and described it as “fun” before immediately correcting herself.

“No,” she elaborated, “it was very fun. Sarah and I had a blast, we got to play good volleyball, we got to explore a little bit. I had my birthday out there in Austria and it was so nice because I know a lot of people out there and I had a birthday dinner and it was so sweet and it was so fun, and Sarah and I did a little Greece trip for my birthday. It was perfect. It was so fun. Just traveling and staying out there.”

Fun, even, to lose in the qualifier of the Ostrava Elite 16 — that part wasn’t so fun — and immediately scramble a flight to make it in time for the main draw of AVP New Orleans. Didn’t matter if that involved a nine-hour time change and not a lick of practice in an entirely different climate with an entirely different ball:They finished seventh, pushing eventual finalists Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth deep into a fantastic three-set match.

“In year’s past, it’s just been ‘Play in everything that we can,’” said Quiggle, who competed in seven international tournaments and all three AVPs in 2021. “Now that we’re in a different spot with no country quotas we can sit back and say ‘We want to play in this tournament, we want to play in this tournament,’ and we just had a conversation talking about how we want to make sure we’re having our training blocks and that we’re playing our A or B game rather than when we end these long stints of tournaments, you’re not always playing at that level.

“It’s really important to max out your season and make sure you’re peaking at the right time. But the beginning of the season was such a rush. We booked so many things and signed up for so many things and we were changing plans every other day and luckily now, the airlines cancel much easier. I have a lot of flight credits now. In the beginning of the year we didn’t know what the international schedule was going to look like with the new structure.

“It starts with how I’m feeling, how close my last one was. It kind of differs. I have an idea, but it’s really important to see, when we’re over there, how we can maintain that as well. How well we’re maintaining those stints partly determines how long we’re going to last.”

The first leg of the season for Quiggle and Schermerhorn has been nothing shy of excellent. They’ve played in three Volleyball World Challenger events and placed ninth in all three. They earned enough points to earn spots in Elite 16 events, the highest tier of the new format. Their only losses on the AVP came to the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. While the rise of some of their peers, take Nuss and Kloth, has been meteoric, theirs’s has been undeniably steady, and that pace is just fine with them.

“Me and Sarah have talked about this a lot and our biggest focus is on us,” Quiggle said. “Everyone is on their own path. Our journey is going to be our journey and we can only control what we can control and we can’t control them. We can’t control how they finish. We don’t necessarily need to root for them or against them. We can’t control it. We’re friends with the girls and the guys, we’re all friends, but you have that little thing in the back of your head that if they do this, you’ll lose money or lose your ranking in the U.S. It’s been important for us to look at it as: It’s our journey, we want to look at it as the best we can do.”

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