Long Beach State Volleyball

Long Beach State Women’s Volleyball Preview

The rebuild of the Long Beach State women’s volleyball program under third-year head coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer has been slower than the coach would prefer, but the LBSU alum and All-American says it’s still coming along.

The team was 10-19 two years ago and 16-13 last year (8-8 in the Big West), but 2019 looks like it will be another step in the right direction.

“We’re not there yet, but we’re a lot farther at this time of year than we’ve been in the past,” said McKienzie-Fuerbringer. “We have more young talent in and some really good, experienced returners.”

The young talent is what’s driving improvement. Sophomore outside hitter Kashauna Williams has the potential to be a star in the Big West, sophomore OH Allison Martinez earned all-tournament honors last weekend in Georgia in the team’s first matches of the season, and freshman setter Tia Chavira had a nice debut leading the team to two victories. 

But there’s also a strong senior class including a trio of players with all-conference potential. Hailey Harward has been the team’s best player for much of the last few seasons and will play her natural position of libero this year. She’s joined in the senior class by a pair of talented middles in KJ Norveel and Erie Xue, who was also all-tournament in Georgia.

“I think we just feel like more of a team this year,” said Harward. “It doesn’t feel like there’s separation between the classes–everyone is on the same team. When we’re healthy we have a lot more options than we have the last few seasons.”

Xue, who is a native of China who came to America to play at LBSU, agrees.

“We have great chemistry this year, we feel a lot more connection to each other,” she said.

Harward, Xue, and McKienzie-Fuerbringer all agreed that the strength of the team is defense, both blocking the ball and passing out of the back row. Joining Harward as passing specialists are freshmen Jade Waskom and Nicole Hoff, as well as sophomores Dylan De La Cruz and Carly Hill.

“We just have more depth this year, at really every position,” said McKienzie-Fuerbringer.

The team has some superstar-caliber recruits in its next few recruiting classes including Starr Williams (2021) and setter Mia Tuaniga, who arrives next year. The setter is the younger sister of LBSU men’s National Player of the Year Josh Tuaniga. 

McKienzie-Fuerbringer and her team knows that there are brighter days ahead than 2019, where they were picked to finish fifth in the Big West, once unimaginable for the four-time national champion Beach squad. But that doesn’t mean they’re content to just wait for those brighter days to arrive.

“I enjoy the process of developing the players and the team, and I think we’re ready to take a step forward this year,” said McKienzie-Fuerbringer.

“I think the chances are high to surprise people,” said Harward. “We just have to keep working hard at it. We can’t just say, ‘Oh we’re going to prove people wrong.’ We have to earn it.”

Long Beach State started the season 2-1 at the Georgia Tech Invite, and will host the Long Beach State Mizuno Classic this weekend with matches against Texas State (Sept. 5 at 8 p.m.), Georgia (Friday, 7 p.m.) and UCLA (Saturday, 7 p.m.).


Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.