Senior night at The Beach for LBSU women’s volleyball proved to be just another day at the office as the team cruised to its 21st consecutive set win inside of The Walter Pyramid after a 3-0 win against CSU Bakersfield Sunday evening.
Dating back to this year on Sept. 28 match against UC San Diego, The Beach has not lost a set of volleyball inside of the ‘Mid’ and played to an overall record of 10-4 at home, dropping just one Big West match inside The Walter Pyramid all season.
Earlier this year, it became obvious that something special was happening at The Beach after home victories against No. 1 at the time Texas, the Big Ten’s Indiana and the shocking sweep of Hawaii that was 25 years in the making.
For the four seniors honored this memorable season will be their last. The group includes three members of the team that have been around since 2019 in setter Tia Chavira, libero Nicole Hoff and opposite hitter Katie Kennedy.
The trio was joined by one newcomer to the program who brought an impact during her graduate season in outside hitter Hanna Lesiak.
“We are guaranteed another tournament here in the pyramid for the Big West tournament. So we’re excited about that,” Kennedy said. “I feel like that’s going to be a little bit more of a realization that [this is it].”
Kennedy has been one of the team’s best players this season as the graduate student leads not just The Beach but the conference altogether with a .489 attacking percentage in conference play before the game against CSUN Friday night. She ranked third on The Beach averaging 2.47 kills per set heading into the weekend.
Another three set victory meant another great display in regards to attacking play with LBSU boasting a .395 attacking percentage. Junior outside hitter Elise Agi led the way with 11 kills followed by Lesiak and freshman outside hitter Livi Narancich who both finished the contest with eight kills.
“I’ve been battling a little bit with not feeling like myself and so I think Zayna set me up with some perfect opportunities to feel like myself again and bang some balls,” Lesiak said.
Narancich made her collegiate debut just a night ago, impressing in her cameo as she compiled nine kills on a .389 attacking percentage alongside six digs against CSUN before putting on an attack focused display against the Roadrunners hitting an impressive .615 on 13 total attempts.
The program looks set to continue to build upon what was done in head coach Tyler Hildebrand’s first season last year where they went 14-6 in conference play and improved after a down year during the COVID-shortened 2021 campaign.
“Both coaches did a great job of allowing us to play how we play volleyball with joy,” Hoff said about playing under coaches Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer and Hildebrand.
“I think then, when the [coaching] switch happened, we’re able to like build off of that with Tyler and didn’t just take a whole new level with our volleyball but as leaders.”
With a now improved 12-2 record in conference play, The Beach sits second in The Big West as an important and challenging four game road stretch to close the season. They’ll start with a match against the conference’s first-place UC Santa Barbara before finishing the season against Hawaii which is right behind them.
This final stretch will see LBSU play only teams currently situated in the top five of The Big West with their next game being on Nov. 10 at UC Santa Barbara.
This article was edited on Nov. 5, 2023 for accuracy.