Beach volleyball reaches midpoint in season, athletes reflect on team environment


Photo credit: Tessa Moshtaghi

The beach volleyball team practices at Edinburgh beach. The team started practicing in the beginning of February and has played Palisades Charter, Notre Dame and Viewpoint.

By Sydney Tilles, Staff Reporter

Playing on the beach is a change in environment for the athletes on the varsity beach volleyball team — the majority of whom play on an indoor team. There are 10 players on the varsity team and nine on the JV team.

The beach volleyball season began in February and will continue through April. So far, the varsity team has defeated Palisades Charter 16-7 and Viewpoint 4-1, and they lost against Notre Dame 2-3. They have upcoming games against Pacifica Christian, Milken Community School, Buckley, and New Roads.

The beach volleyball program is separated into two teams by skill level: the JV team and the varsity team. Although they compete separately, the teams practice together.

Sophomore Grace Ryan has been playing volleyball since fifth grade, and this is her second year on the beach volleyball team. She said she loves the community environment and getting to know people from other grades.

“You’re playing the sport, but there’s also this really cool environment where everyone’s always laughing, and we’re at the beach, which is obviously a beautiful sunset,” Ryan said. “It’s just such a nice way to spend your time.” 

Senior Uma Bajaj plays indoor volleyball on a club team and has been playing volleyball at Archer since middle school. Bajaj said the environment is fun, easygoing and, comparatively, not as competitive and stressful as the indoor team.

“The coaches are nice; everyone’s there to have fun,” Bajaj said. “It’s not too strict, or no one’s that stressed, I would say. It’s a lot of like having fun and just trying.”

Ryan said the environment is fostered by the coach Tom Sauterbeck. She describes him as laid back and said he aims to act as a resource for the team and encourages student leadership.

At the start of each practice, Sauterbeck asks the girls what they want to get out of their practice. During the season’s first practice, he asked the seniors what their overall goal was for their last season.

“A lot of us just like obviously you want to win and do well,” Bajaj said. “But I think a lot of us are just trying to like have like a fun season and bond people from other grades because it’s like a great way to get to know the rest of the school.”

Sophomore Taviana Memoli, a second-year member of the team, said she has been able to create close friendships with upperclassmen. Memoli described the team in three words: uplifting, supporting and a community.

“It connects you with people from all different grade levels, which is great because that can make people feel more comfortable on campus.” ”

— Taviana Memoli

“I have a couple of really close senior friends, and I’ve been able to talk to them about their journey applying for colleges and what their advice is for me as a sophomore who’s starting to think about that process,” Memoli said. “It connects you with people from all different grade levels, which is great because that can make people feel more comfortable on campus.” 

Having played on the team since sophomore year, Bajaj reflected on her takeaways and what she will miss as she goes to college.

“Not a lot of kids have the opportunity to go to the beach every day after school. Living in California we have that opportunity,” Bajaj said. “But in college, I don’t think I’m going to have that opportunity to go to the beach every day after classes — just being able to play volleyball with all your friends.”