What We Missed: Beach Volleyball

Not many students know it, but USF has a beach volleyball team competing at the NCAA Division I level. There are a few possible causes of this. When you think of life in San Francisco, playing beach volleyball is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind. USF does not have a beach volleyball facility, so their “home” matches are played in Santa Cruz, two hours south of campus. Beach volleyball is a relatively new NCAA sport, only in its fourth year of competition. It does not draw the same media attention paid to basketball, soccer, baseball or even indoor volleyball.

We also have not covered them at all this season. Our apologies.

While we were not paying attention, the beach volleyball team went out and tripled their win total from last season. After a standout 2016 season debut season in which the Dons went 16-5, the program stumbled, putting up a paltry 4-28 combined record in the two seasons after.

With nothing to lose, Coach Frank Lavrisha’s squad embarked on the 2019 season with seven fresh faces joining the ranks. The Dons split their four opening weekend matches, beating Feather River College and perennial rival Santa Clara University while dropping matches against San Jose State and UC Berkeley.

The Dons would go on to play the Santa Clara Broncos four times, winning three matches and losing one. They were on the losing end of five matches against No. 19 Saint Mary’s College and also lost to No. 20 Stanford, No. 10 UC Berkeley and No. 5 Pepperdine. The Dons went 0-8 against ranked opponents and 12-5 against all other opponents.

All things considered, an overall record of 12-13 is a marked improvement over last season’s 4-11 record.

The Dons also boast three players receiving All-West Coast Conference (WCC) recognition. Sophomore Anna Dalla Vecchia was named to the All-WCC Second Team, following through after having been named on the All-WCC Preseason team. Last year, she was named to the All-WCC Freshman team. Joining the Italian on the All-WCC Second Team is her on-court partner junior Carly Lowry. This is Lowry’s first All-WCC award.

Redshirt freshman Madelyn Lafollette was named to the All-WCC Freshman team. Lafollette played on the Dons’ indoor volleyball team in her true freshman year, 2017. However, because this is her first year playing beach volleyball, she is considered a freshman in award eligibility.

Looking ahead, the Dons will welcome at least one new name to the sand next year. In December, the program announced the signing of Laurie McGrath, a high school senior who will be graduating this month from Hilo High School in Hilo, Hawai‘i. McGrath played for league-winning squads for the Hilo High Vikings in 2016 and 2018.

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