LMU beach volleyball is finally making its long-awaited return, and they have their sights set on a national title.
The team is looking to build upon its achievements from last year’s shortened season. When COVID-19 caused spring sports to end prematurely in March 2020, the team was on pace to make the NCAA tournament. They posted a 6-3 season with wins against multiple highly ranked teams, including rival No. 6 Pepperdine.
Their impressive season earned the Lions a No. 8 national ranking, the highest in the program’s history. They’ve retained this ranking in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll for the upcoming season, and the team has been working hard to continue from where they left off despite almost a year since their last competition.
“We do a lot of intrasquad scrimmages and try to make [the players] feel like it’s a match,” said head coach John Mayer. “We’re trying to put them in the right situations to identify the most important things to work on.”
Mayer and the rest of the coaching staff have worked hard to get the team in shape and ready to compete, so they are thrilled to finally kick off their season on Feb. 27 against Georgia State. They will compete in three matches over the weekend in Tallahassee, Florida, hosted by Florida State.
“We’re just looking forward to competing against someone in a different jersey. We’ve been practicing for a long time and we love to compete, so we want to play and be pushed by other teams,” said Mayer.
The team is lucky to have several graduate students on the roster this season. Savannah Slattery, Jessie Prichard and Emma Doud bring a ton of experience in their fifth years playing for LMU, and transfers Darby Dunn from Stetson and Iya Lindahl from UC Berkeley have come in from two excellent programs.
“You want to be a part of something bigger than yourself, so [the graduate students] want to leave an impact. They’re giving feedback to the younger players and talking about things they’ve learned. We have some very knowledgeable players who really, really love playing with us every day,” said Mayer.
Since they likely would have made the NCAA tournament last year had the season not been cut short, the Lions are especially motivated to achieve that goal this year. If LMU can earn a spot in the coveted national tournament, it will be their first appearance in team history.
“[Making the national championship] is definitely the goal, but we don’t talk about it that much because it’s just about today,” said Mayer. “The main thing is that we’re learning and adapting each day. I think if we do that, we’ll be able to play and beat anybody.”