Savannah Slattery started playing the game of volleyball at age 10 and she never looked back.
Slattery, currently a junior marketing major and an outside hitter on the LMU volleyball team, can still remember how she got her start in volleyball and what made her fall in love with it.
“The speed of the game is what first drew me to the sport,” she recalled. “I loved how fast-paced the game was and how I had to be focused in the entire time.”
It proved to be a dramatic change of pace for Slattery, who was a softball player before she got into volleyball. However, even when she was new to the sport, the Malibu native was determined to work as hard as she could to improve her volleyball skills and general athleticism. Slattery said that she has enjoyed the opportunities throughout her life to prove what female athletes are capable of doing.
“I have always loved being a woman in sports,” she said. “I remember ever since I was young, when I started fully working out, I was always the youngest and sometimes the only woman in my training session. And I had a blast out-running or out-training the other athletes.”
It took her time to adjust to the tempo at which volleyball is played, but once she was able to do so, she excelled. At Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Slattery was one of the stars of the team — playing varsity for three years and helping the team make the postseason each year. According to LMU Athletics, Slattery led the team in kills in both her junior and senior years of high school, earned all-league honors during both of those seasons and captained the team during her senior year.
Soon, colleges were recruiting her and she had a decision to make. She chose LMU for a variety of reasons.
“I loved LMU because of the culture of the volleyball program. It is very growth-focused and it values learning,” Slattery said. “As for the school itself, I obviously loved the location, being close to my family, and knew the academics were great as well.”
Slattery’s choice to attend LMU has paid off during all three of her seasons thus far as a Lion. As a freshman, she finished second on the team with 330 kills and served as the team’s offensive leader in several matches. She was also able to win the 2016-2017 LMU Female Freshman Athlete of the Year award. Her sophomore year saw a slight statistical drop-off, with her kills dropping to 294, placing her at third on the team. Nevertheless, Slattery knows that her time at LMU isn’t about volleyball numbers, but instead about developing as both a player and a person, which is a process she thinks all athletes go through.
“I’ve been very lucky at LMU as a female collegiate athlete ... The challenges I face on a regular basis, I believe, are challenges both men and women face,” she said. “Like staying on top of everything to have good time management, and consistently being in a good headspace, even when things aren’t going smoothly outside of my sport, so I can still perform at my best at all times.”
The times when she performs her best, Slattery said, come from within, even though there are others helping her.
“I hold myself to a high standard and push myself, as I know my coaches do too,” Slattery said.
That mentality was rewarded this past season, both for Slattery and for the Lions as a team. Slattery recorded a career-best 371 kills, second most on the team. LMU posted a 20-9 regular season record, highlighted by a straight-sets win over BYU, ranked No. 1 in the country at the time. For their efforts, the Lions received a bid to their first NCAA Tournament since 2015, where they reached the second round.
“This season was incredible in many ways,” Slattery said. “Overall, I am so proud of the team for the things we accomplished.”
Slattery is already looking forward to next season and it is possible that she will be the team’s offensive focal point. She has high expectations for herself and the Lions, and she aspires to meet all of them.
“I expect us to be even better than we were last year,” she said. “This will be my last indoor season so, for myself, I expect to have a lot of fun, play loose and absolutely dominate on the court. As a team, we just lightly touched our capabilities last season. I cannot wait to see what we accomplish next season.”