LSU beach volleyball has been in the Top-10 of the preseason polls for the past two seasons and this season is no different as they received a No. 7 ranking in the AVCA Preseason Poll.
The Tigers were also given this ranking by DiG Magazine in January. LSU was ranked No. 6 by AVCA at the end of regular season last year after winning 27 games. The Tigers also attended the NCAA Championship, but did not end up making it to finals.
“I feel like it’s accurate,” junior Olivia Powers said. “I’m excited for it to be bumped up. Ii think we have so much potential that it’s a fair start, but not at all what we want.”
Powers worked with sophomore Hunter Domanski last season producing a 15-11 record in the USAV Collegiate Beach Championship. Powers ended her season with 21 wins, while Domanski ended hers with 19. It is not yet known whether or not this duo will be paired again in the upcoming season.
Juniors Claire Coppola and Kristen Nuss became the star players for this team and have given a lot of reasoning for the new ranking. Coppola and Nuss had a successful offseason competing in the FISU World University Games in Germany. This opportunity came from winning the title at the USAV Collegiate Beach Championship.
Coppola and Nuss have also received the CSSA Pair of the Year in 2018 after a 31-8 record. Since their first season the duo has pulled 58 matches won and have help give LSU beach volleyball its reputation. Even with stats like these, it is yet to be determined if the duo will be paired up again.
“We have that information looking back on how they did and who they did well with and who they played well against,” coach Russell Brock said. “Information from last year is all good, but even [Nuss, Coppola, Powers and Domanski] are completely different players this season. They’ve all done great work and improved and changed their games.”
“It’s just a part of the process. We’re always looking at ways to make our whole team better than we were last year. We’re satisfied with last year, it’s great information, but we don’t expect that to influence our ability to be better this year because we know we have to do things differently to be better than we were, so it’s just a piece of the puzzle.”
LSU beach volleyball’s success derived from a place off campus, Mango’s in Baton Rouge. This is the first season the team will actually have a home on campus for their games. They’ve been given a fresh start to kick off the new season in a new facility with a new mentality.
“I think it’s somebody else's opinion of how good we are,” Brock said. “That’s a reasonable place to be. I think that it makes sense and it’s right around where we were at the end of last year. But we don’t expect to finish there. That’s just a good starting place.”
“It’s fun because you wanna be ranked well and seen as a team that’s in contention to be one of the better teams in the country, but we also know that’s not our goal. Our goal isn't to be number seven, so it’s just a good starting point and we’re honored to be in that list this point in the season.”