Beach volleyball starts soon, in March, and many teams and players are looking forward to competing and get in some volleyball action. Four teams we will have an eye on in the 2021 season are LSU, UCLA, Florida State, and USC.
- LSU ended their 2019-2020 season 12-2 (losses to Hawaii and UCLA).
- UCLA ended 13-2 (2 losses to LSU).
- Florida State ended 12-1 (their only loss was to USC).
- USC ended 6-5.
LSU players Taryn Kloth and Kristen Ness, both terrific in the sand, were seniors last year. But due to the season ending prematurely, both were granted another year of eligibility and both are plan on playing this spring for LSU.
They won the AVPNext Winter Wonderland without losing a set. And expect similar results in their second round as seniors.
Another high-ranking player from the Tigers' 2020 season was Claire Coppola.
LSU was actually ranked the No. 1 team in the country in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll, marking the first time that the Tigers will enter the season as the top ranked team in the nation. They have every major contributor coming back from last year and look to pick up where they left off when the season ended prematurely. Before the sudden end, LSU had racked up 11 straight victories with five against ranked opponents (UCLA).
UCLA announced early in 2021 an addition to the coaching staff: beach volleyball Hall of Famer Jose Loiola as the Bruins' volunteer assistant coach. His mentorship, experience, knowledge, and passion will go a long way and the head coach, Stein Metzger believes this addition will only increase the team's capabilities.
Florida State had 2 top ranked players on their roster to watch for: Molly McBain and Alaina Chacon in 2020. Four Seminoles were named to the 2020 U.S. Collegiate Beach National Team: Alaina Chacon, Payton Caffrey, Sara Putt and Liz Waters-Leiga were all named to the 29 person team based on their collegiate rankings.
Chacon finished the 2020 season with a perfect 13-0 record, finishing as one of six individuals to end the season unbeaten (four of the six were from Florida State). She finished the season with seven wins over ranked teams. She finished the season as the highest rated player in the MoVR rankings (49.25)
The head coach for the women’s team is 1996 Olympian and longtime beach volleyball high performance coach Barbra Fontana. She will be assisted by Hector Gutierrez, head coach of Texas Christian beach volleyball and Russell Brock, head coach of Louisiana State beach volleyball.
USC also has players to reckon with: USC beach volleyball's Hailey Harward and Julia Scoles paired up to win the AVPNext Gold/AVP America U.S. Open National Championship at Clearwater Beach in the late fall of 2020. They dropped only one set all weekend and while both are considered graduates USC has many other phenomenal players on the roster. Their first game is set to be February 25th against Pepperdine.
Beach Volleyball is always a thrill to watch and we are excited that we are returning to play this spring with some of the best beach volleyball players in the world.