This week, the West Coast Conference (WCC) announced its honors for beach volleyball season. Unsurprisingly, the WCC champion Lions were well represented. In total, LMU’s beach volleyball team had nine players recognized, more than any other program.
Five members of LMU’s team earned All-WCC first team honors: senior Sara Kovac, graduate student Megan Nash, sophomore transfer Reka Orsi Toth, junior Jessie Prichard and junior Savannah Slattery. Sophomore Bo Culo and junior Emma Doud also earned spots on the All-WCC second team. This championship-winning Lions roster also featured plenty of young talent with two freshmen being named to the All-WCC freshman team, both Reka Orsi Toth and Ella Boehle.
Beyond the players, LMU head coach John Mayer was recognized as the WCC coach of the year. This award could not be more deserved, as the Lions' beach volleyball program has been totally revitalized since Mayer's arrival. He was added to LMU’s staff in August of 2015 following a season in which the team finished with a disappointing record of four wins and four losses.
Mayer had his work cut out to turn the program around and a managed a record of 6-17 in 2016, his first season in charge. In Mayer’s second season at the helm, the Lions had a winning record again. In 2017, the Lions played 29 games and won 15. This was followed by further improvement in 2018 when the Lions finished 22-14, including a win against the No. 10 University of Arizona along the way.
All of this steady progress culminated in this year’s beach season, in which LMU won the WCC championship and finished with a record of 27-11. The Lions had a strong resume heading into the WCC championships, beating ranked teams such as Grand Canyon University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Under Mayer’s leadership, LMU took down rival Pepperdine not once, but twice on the way to winning the championship. The transformation of the program that has taken place under Coach Mayer has been quite sensational, and his value to the team cannot be understated.
Reka Orsi Toth was recognized as the WCC’s freshman of the year. The sophomore from Rome, Italy transferred to LMU already as an accomplished volleyball player, and entered the program with freshman transfer standing. In 2017, Orsi Toth won a silver medal at the European Under-20 Beach Volleyball Championships. Her older sister Viktoria is also a professional volleyball player who represents Italy on the international stage. Orsi Toth played a crucial role on April 20 when the Lions defeated Pepperdine to secure the team’s title. Her and partner Megan Nash were the duo who clinched LMU’s first victory over the Waves that day. This forced another match against Pepperdine to determine a champion, a game in which the Lions would emerge victorious.
LMU’s beach volleyball program earned plenty of recognition from the WCC to go along with its title. This team comprised of a quality head coach and championship talent now look to represent LMU at the NCAA Championships taking place this weekend in Gulf Shores, Alabama.