Three Long Beach State women’s volleyball freshman won the American Volleyball Coaches Association All Jr. American award.
Taylor Hagenah, Malia Gementra and Kate Stoughton were the recipients for the award. An AVCA All-American award means athletes are currently the top players nationwide. Competing in the 2022 U19 Beach World Championship, winning gold medals and being named player of the year are a few of the reasons why they earned these awards.
Hagenah, who received the first team award, is from Oceanside, California, and played with the Tamarack Beach Volleyball Club for four years. She won a gold medal at the World School Sport Games, but explains how receiving an All-American award feels different.
“This is definitely one of the biggest accomplishments and ties them all together and rewards it in a way as well, it’s pretty cool to be recognized,” Hagenah said.
Receiving this award early on in her career at Long Beach State sets up a standard for her for the remainder of her time here.
Hagenah said that it has made her excited for what’s to come athletically. As for academically, she looks forward to figuring out her future, whether it’s becoming a teacher or continuing work in the sports field such as sports management or sports marketing.
Just as Hagenah played in a competition involving teams around the world, Gementra, who received the second team award, competed in the 2022 U19 Beach World Championship trials in June.
Gementra found out she had won after her mom received the email.
“My coaches texted me saying ‘we think you should nominate yourself because you have potential to win,’ and then my mom sent me the email and she was super excited that I got second team,” Gementra said.
Playing in the U19 Beach World Championship trials shaped Gementra in a way that helped her understand the type of competition there is around the world but it also helped her learn the style of volleyball other girls play.
Although Gementra is proud of herself, the award isn’t something she wants to take for granted.
“I wouldn’t take it as ‘oh I’m the best.’ There’s girls that are smarter than you cause they have more college knowledge in the sport, so I’m just going to put that aside and learn from all the other girls and coaches,” Gementra said.
The upcoming season for the Long Beach State beach volleyball team will consist of athletes who not only played around the world, but some athletes are from different parts of the country.
Stoughton is from New Jersey and played five years with the Stars and Stripes Beach Volleyball Club in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. In her time there, she won Shore League Player of the Year four times, which made her earn the AVCA Junior All-American honorable mention award.
Making a move from New Jersey to Southern California isn’t something that Soughton has taken lightly. She realizes how it’s a good opportunity as this doesn’t happen to many and hopes it’s a good opportunity to start something that she hopes motivates future players to do the same.
“It’s definitely a motivator not just to us, but to the whole team and at the end of the day it’s there and you see it but it’s also like OK,” Stoughton said. “Let’s look at the future and let’s see what more we can accomplish.”
Stoughton says she aims to support her volleyball team whether it’s as a friend, teammate or any role she can play in order for them to win a national championship.
Mike Campbell, head coach of the women’s beach volleyball team believes that these three athletes show how new recruits make for a bright future.
“This shows the strength in recruiting, and getting top athletes come to the university, and the resources we’ve been given from the athletic department just to heighten the student athlete experience and make it a place where we’re not only competitive but we’re competing for top recruits,” Campbell said.
The women’s beach volleyball season returns in the spring when these three women will prove why they’ve earned their titles.