CIF recognizes beach volleyball, Irvine’s first team

Photo+Courtesy+of+Jenna+Baeza+

Photo Courtesy of Jenna Baeza

Olympians and collegiate athletes play beach volleyball—and now—Irvine High athletes can play competitively as well. 

California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) officially recognized beach volleyball as a sport this year. Physical Education and Health teacher Jenna Baeza and assistant coach Holiday Zimmerman saw this as an opportunity to start the first beach volleyball team in the Pacific Coast League. 

“We were both so excited to see women’s sports become more accessible and to have more women’s sports offered in our district,” Zimmerman said. “We are grateful to Dr. [Monica] Colunga and the athletic department for making it happen. They truly want to offer as many programs as possible and go to great lengths to serve our high school students.”

Beach volleyball is played similarly to indoor volleyball with major differences being open hand tips are not allowed, it’s played with teams of two and the courts are on sand. The scores are recorded for each individual team, but there is no overall team score.

“I am really happy that I was a part of the beach volleyball team program this year,” senior Nikki Chen said. “It was super fun and the coaches were always encouraging and supportive. My favorite part was playing games at an actual beach.”

Photo Courtesy of Jenna Baeza

The team consists of seniors Chen and Katie Vo, and sophomores Anna Glebova, Madeline Kuan, Naomi Montoya, Rakshana Sasikumar, Taylor Tran and captain Cozette Zimmerman. The Lady Vaqueros concluded their season on April 6 with a game against Crean Lutheran. 

“One of the best experiences we’ve had so far was when we played at Pacifica High School,” Baeza said. “We got to experience the real beach vibe with the elements of the wind and sand since we don’t see that on our courts here.”

There are no courts on Irvine High’s campus, so the Lady Vaqueros trained on the Heritage Park courts. Baeza and Zimmerman hope that Irvine High School will have their own beach volleyball courts by next season as the sport gains traction. 

This was an opportunity to start something new, advance women’s sports and give high school students a chance to become all they are created to be and advance in something they are passionate about,” coach Zimmerman said. “Coach Jenna [Baeza] and the staff at Irvine are amazing and it is fun to be a part of a great team.”

The Lady Vaqueros and both coaches will return to the courts in January.