No Coast? No problem for two local beach volleyball players

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

This summer, two Wichita teens have been making a name for themselves and their home state in a sport that's a bit under the radar. 

The state of Kansas is known for a few things. Legendary basketball programs spanning from Wichita to Lawrence, a college football icon in Bill Snyder and if these two have their way, beach volleyball. 

"It's super fun and chill," said Ellie Shank. "You're on the beach, music is playing and you also only have one other person so it's more individual than indoor volleyball."

Ellie Shank and Ella Larkin qualified for nationals in California this year, where they competed in four tournaments and finished in the top 10 in three of the four. They also won 42 of their 52 matches. 

"What kind of sticks out to me is the 10," said Shank. "Because I feel like we didn't lose that many games and the games we did lose were all by like two points and just simple stuff that we could have adjusted." 

"Our love towards the game," said Ella Larkin. "We just love to win so I guess just our wanting to win is just fun to be together I guess." 

You could say their success raised a few eyebrows on the West Coast. 

"People would be like Kansas? How do you play beach in Kansas? There's no beaches in Kansas," said Shank. "Then we tell them yeah our club is called No Coast and everyone always thinks it's so funny." 

Going out there to California they're like you're from Kansas, are you sure? And we're like yeah it's pretty awesome," said Larkin. 

They accomplished all this while practicing mostly against adults due to a lack of experienced beach volleyball players. 

"We won't play against older people in tournaments so it's just kind of nice because they know the game more," said Larkin.  "I feel like they are more physical than some of the girls that we play against." 

The duo's first venture into the sport didn't go exactly as they planned. 

"We kept messing up on the rules and it would just be a snowball effect of going down hill. But we had a lot of fun and so we were 11 and we were like oh that was so much fun let's do it again next year," Shank. 

Larkin and Shank hope they can serve as trendsetters and encourage others to try beach volleyball, a sport that's given them so much joy. 

"I think girls if they came out and gave it a shot, like all the indoor players, if they came over to the sand, they would love it," said Shank. "Then they could start traveling to California and places like that."