BVB | Gaels Open 2018 Season In Stockton
The Saint Mary's beach volleyball team will open up the 2018 season on Saturday taking on host Pacific and East Bay rival California
By: Nadine Masarweh
SMC Athletic Communications Student Assistant
MORAGA, Calif. — The Saint Mary’s beach volleyball team will open up the 2018 season Saturday in Stockton taking on host Pacific and East Bay rival California before heading to its first tournament of the season at Stanford in the Stanford Bay Area Kickoff.
Saturday, Feb. 24, 10 a.m - RV/RV Saint Mary’s (0-0) at Pacific (0-0)
Saturday, Feb. 24, Noon - RV/RV Saint Mary’s vs. RV/RV California (0-0)
Saint Mary’s finished off the 2017 regular season with a 19-10 overall record and took down its West Coast Conference opponents. In result, the Gaels are ranked 16th in the DiG Collegiate Sand Volleyball Poll while also receiving votes in the AVCA Collegiate Beach Volleyball Poll.
The Gaels fell to California in the 2017 season at the Stanford Tournament but took down the Bears in both contests on the road and at home. SMC dominated over Pacific, 4-1 in its first matchup at home and once more on the road sweeping the Tigers, 5-0.
Saint Mary’s returns its top leaders Lindsey Knudsen, Payton Rund and Emily Bible back on the sand as all three were named Preseason All-WCC. The duo of Knudsen and Rund led Saint Mary’s in pairs with a 24-5 record while earning all-WCC first team honors. Sarah Chase and Bible were second on the team with a 19-8 record in No. 2 pairs last season.
Lindsey Calvin finished with a 13-13 record while pairing with Mary Hernandez. Hernandez (13-16 individual record) and Calvin were paired at the No. 3 spot and finished with a 2-5 record. Hernandez was also paired at the No. 3 spot with former Gael Alexis Salmons as they both went 11-9.
Madi Wilkerson (individual 11-16 record) and Sienna Young was paired at the No. 5 spot and finished with a 8-8 record. Wilkerson remained at the No. 5 spot and was paired with Alex O’Sullivan as they both finished with a 3-5 record, Wilkerson and former Gael Dominique Dodd went 1-0.
Alexsa Parker and Sienna Young competed on the sand for the first time with the Gaels last season. Parker’s 18-11 record was fourth-best on the team while pairing with three different teammates in the No. 4 spot. Parker paired with returner Calvin and finished with an 11-6 record, Young and Parker finished 2-3 and she also went 5-2 with Salmons. Young finished with a 10-12 record and also played at No. 4 pairs with Parker.
Morgan Hughes is a key player for the Gaels as she enters her first season on the sand after a successful indoor season. Hughes brings exposure and experience from Feather River College after making it to the 2016 CCCAA State Beach Volleyball Individuals competition while leading her indoor team with 370 kills as a sophomore in 2016, 10th-most in the CCCAA. Hughes totaled 233 digs, 73 blocks, and hit .294 in 2016 during indoor while helping the Golden Eagles go undefeated during the 2017 beach volleyball season. She led the team to finish with the No. 1 ranking in the CCCAA and qualified for the CCCAA Beach Volleyball team and individual state championships in 2017.
Kelsey Knudsen is a talented defensive specialist that led Valencia High School to back-to-back Foothill League Championships in indoor. Knudsen collected 400 or more digs as a junior and senior and tallied 80 service aces over her two varsity indoor seasons.
Jennifer “Boo” Laird totaled 95 kills, 43 blocks (5th on the team) and 17 digs in her first year of indoor volleyball with the Gaels last fall. Prior to Saint Mary’s, Laird totaled nearly 1,000 (912) kills in four years and had 1,091 digs, totaling nearly 400 kills (397) as a senior while hitting an impressive .416 in the fall of 2016 alone at Mission Prep High School.
Madison Baumann will also make her debut on the sand this spring with Saint Mary’s. She appeared in one match for the Gaels last fall during the indoor season. Prior to Saint Mary’s, she tallied 233 kills during her indoor high school career, hitting an average of .313 with an impressive 186 kills in her last season. Baumann collected 70 blocks, 25 digs and 50 services while being named WBAL champion and Norcal finalist in 2016.
Morgan Kenrick brings forth great skill for the Gaels as she was ranked No. 8 as a AA beach volleyball player in the California Beach Volleyball Association. Kenrick played for Elite Beach Volleyball Club and was placed fifth in the Huntington Beach Pro Am along with being a top finisher at the 18U level.
Saint Mary’s will compete in three big tournaments this season. The Gaels will travel to Stanford for the Stanford Bay Area Kickoff, Malibu for the Pepperdine Invitational and back to Stanford for a second time for the Stanford West Coast Classic.
This year highlights four big matchups ranked in the AVCA Collegiate Beach Volleyball Poll. The Gaels will compete with two-time defending national champion USC, two-time defending WCC champion Pepperdine and LMU on March 31 at the Pepperdine Invitational. Saint Mary’s will take on UCLA, Cal Poly and Stanford in the Stanford West Coast Classic. The Gaels will face Northern California rivals Stanford, Sacramento State, San Francisco and Santa Clara in the Stanford Bay Area Kickoff. The Cardinals finished 2017 ranked No. 19 in the DiG Magazine Collegiate Beach Volleyball Poll.
Saint Mary’s will continue its season-opening road trip to its first tournament of the season in Stanford at the Stanford Bay Area Kickoff beginning with a match versus the host Cardinal on March 2. Fans can find live coverage links for all games on SMCGaels.com.
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