The LMU beach volleyball team participated in their first competitive series of matches in the SoCal Challenge in Manhattan Beach on Nov. 13. The exhibition tournament consisted of eight total teams, which included Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Grand Canyon University, University of Hawaii, Long Beach State, Pepperdine, UCLA and USC. In their first competitive action against other teams before the start of the regular season in spring, the Lions ended the day first in total points and showed strong form as they prepare for the regular season.
Redshirt junior Reka Orsi Toth, one of the returning players for the upcoming season, noted the importance of the team competing and getting comfortable with each other before the start of the regular season. She looked to incorporate elements of last season’s success while bringing in new challenges to help the team grow and improve as they aim to make another deep postseason run.
I think what made the difference in the previous years was the culture of the team," said Orsi Toth. "So our challenge is actually to recreate that culture of just finding this growth mindset. Our coaches really encourage that type of like approach of just putting us in a tough spot in practices and challenging ourselves, we're totally out of our comfort zone constantly. We always come up with a mission every week for what we want to get better at and what we are gonna plan to do. So, I think like today it's no different from any other day. We're just on a mission, trying to get better a little bit each day."
Taking on the University of Hawaii in the first duel of the tournament for the Lions, LMU swept Hawaii and only lost two sets in five matches played. In the second group of matches, LMU took on Long Beach State and once again displayed their strong play as they took care of their opponents 4-1 in matches won in the duel. The last window saw LMU take on the UCLA Bruins, who defeated LMU last season in the 2021 NCAA tournament semifinals. The Lions took control and bested UCLA 3-2 matches, ending the day with winning each series of duels played in the tournament.
Roster turnaround from departing seniors has led to a large group of new players being added to the team. Redshirt junior transfer Emily Anderson saw her first competitive action with her new team, coming to LMU from Arizona State University. She cites the closeness of the Lions as a helpful transition into being a new face on the team and getting comfortable heading into the new season.
“It's been fun being friends with these girls and competing against them and now we get to compete as a team,” said Anderson. “There's like seven or eight new girls, there’s a lot of us … The girls were really welcoming. I mean, I feel like with every new season, you have to find your place again.”
The end results of the first day of the SoCal tournament saw LMU with a 3-0 record in duels, 12-3 record in matches, 26-10 record in overall games and totaling 700 points scored against 591 points allowed, ranking first overall in the tournament on the day.
The beach volleyball team will open the regular season in spring, with freshman Chloe Martin laying out the team’s mindset and determination to continuously improve as the team focuses on winning their first championship in program history.
“I feel like every time we walk into practice, it's competition for going to [the NCAA Tournament] again. So we all come in and practice hard and everyone was welcoming when we first got here,” said Martin. “It's like one big family that competes hard and wants to win.”