For just the second time in the last 30 years, the Moore League has added another sport with the introduction of beach volleyball this Spring. Long Beach Poly, Wilson, Lakewood, and Millikan are participating in the inaugural season, with rotating matches taking place at LBCC on the Vikings’ brand new world-class beach volleyball pits.
“It’s so amazing, we’ve been asking for this for a long time and we’re all ecstatic,” said Wilson senior Jaedyn Gonzalez. “It’s a lot of work because most of us are playing indoor club right now, but we wanted to be a part of something new.”
The Moore League added lacrosse in 2020 before the pandemic began, but has had few additions over the last decades, making this a bi gmoment. So far this season it’s been the Jackrabbits on top, as Poly currently sits at 7-1, two games ahead of second-place Wilson (5-3) with Lakewood and Millikan following after.
The Jackrabbits have some serious firepower with All-American USC signee Adonia Faumuina and partner Halie McGinest the top pair in the league so far. The Jackrabbits were disappointed in their finish in the Fall, which they said was a big part of their motivation to play in the new beach season.
“It’s cool for my senior season to get to play for my school again, and to get to play with Halie again,” said Faumuina.
“It’s exciting to get a rematch against teams we may have lost to in the Fall, that’s a big part of it for me,” said McGinest.
All the players and coaches interviewed used words like fun, exciting, and awesome to describe the new sport. There was definitely a different vibe at the sand courts than in a Fall indoor girls’ volleyball match, with players joking around between matches. The fact that all four teams are playing each other on a rotating basis every Tuesday and Thursday means they’re all spending a lot of time together, too.
“I think it’s super fun and it helps build the league,” said Wilson coach Gerald Aquiningoc. “It’s great for the sport and for all of us--it’s just awesome. I was happy to come out and be the coach, it gives us a way to see our girls longer and I think it really builds league camaraderie.”
Wilson has been led by Chloe Pravednikov and Kate Eckenrode so far this season.
Lakewood are the reigning champions indoor, but are sitting in third place on the sand with a mostly young roster led by coach Jessica Kaeka. The Lancers are led by the sister tandem of Fatima and Lala Hall, and Kaeka says she sees a lot of potential in her team--and she would know, having played beach collegiately.
“I love it, they love it, we’re getting better on the beach and for indoor,” Kaeka said. “The girls are super excited--everyone is starting out and learning together, there’s no negativity.”
The growing demand for more beach volleyball outlets isn’t a surprise--since the sport was added as an official NCAA sport a few years back, there’s been an explosion of growth in the collegiate ranks, which has been followed by massive demand at the youth and high school levels.
Poly coach Megan Sefuiva said she’s seen that enthusiasm at LBCC the last several weeks.
“We’re not putting any pressure on them, we’re all out here learning from this season to build for the future,” she said. “You can see the excitement from the little ones who are out here cheering it’s great.”
Millikan didn’t have many varsity players come out, but do feature some impressive young talent, with Olivia Smith and Isabella Giarla starting the year as the Rams’ top doubles tandem under coach Ashley Atsaros.
The Moore League volleyballers will be back in action Tuesday and Thursday this week and next week as they look to wrap up the first team championship. There will then be a tournament to decide the top duo that takes place April 11-13.