Long Beach City College Volleyball

LBCC Volleyball Off to Undefeated Start, Ranked No. 10 in California

The Long Beach City College women’s volleyball team is off to a terrific start in 2023 under the direction of Lakewood alum Tyler Jackson, who is in her third season coaching the Vikings.

LBCC is 10-0 this season and is ranked No. 10 in the state in the CCCAA rankings. It’s the Vikings’ best start in more than a decade, and they’ve lost just five sets in 10 matches. It’s a remarkable turnaround from last year’s 3-16 season, which included a 2-10 conference finish.

“Obviously last season was a struggle for us, and I learned a lot about coaching,” said Jackson. “We actually have been playing with some starters injured this year but we had a lot of injuries last year, and we learned from it. Now when there’s an injury the next player is ready to go–last year we’d be rattled. This year we’re more comfortable adjusting.”

More than just Xs and Os, Jackson deserves credit for rebuilding the culture of the Vikings’ women’s volleyball team, which had the rare pleasure of being coached by an all-time Olympic legend in Misty May-Treanor, but which has been searching for a new direction since she departed. Jackson doubled down on building local–Poly alum Litara Keil is on her coaching staff, along with Ghie Lubica and Tawnee Luafalemana, a Carson alum who played at the University of Utah.

She’s also emphasized helping to tap into the culture of the campus itself.

“We didn’t used to step out and support other teams as a group, so we went to a soccer game yesterday and then in return, the soccer team came out and supported us,” she said. “It’s just explaining to them what it means to be a Viking and to support everyone.”

The Vikings, currently tied for first place at 4-0 in the South Coast Conference, have been led by a variety of players offensively and defensively. The straw that’s stirred their drink all season has been freshman setter Enaya Vaielua, a Cypress High alum. Vaieula has been honored as the State Player of the Week and has put up some eye-popping numbers, including a triple-double that saw her put up double-digit kills, assists, and digs in a match. She’s averaging 3.06 kills per set, 3.1 assists per set, and 2.29 digs per set this season.

After a big four-set win over El Camino in front of a large and rowdy crowd, Vaieula said that her team has really benefited from the improved crowd energy at their contests.

“Having that big crowd really does hype our team up, especially if we’re down,” she said. “They’ve been lifting us up this year for sure.”

Vaieula wasn’t a part of the Vikings’ struggles last year, but still had a good idea of what’s been behind their turnaround this season.

“We’ve really honed in on our work,” she said. “There’s great energy at every practice, you see big effort from everyone every day.”

LBCC will host Pasadena CC on Friday at 6pm in the Hall of Champions, as they try to remain undefeated in conference play. They’ll host fellow undefeated program Rio Hondo on Oct. 11 at 6pm.

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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.