Beach volleyball season starts on Wednesday morning

Angelique Stepanoff
Angelique Stepanoff gets ready to serve during beach season last year. Photo by Paul Muyskens

Trading in shoes for sunscreen, the Delta College volleyball team is ready for the beach season to get underway on Wednesday after going 21-9 during an indoor season that left them one win shy of making it to state.

“Beach really gives our kids an opportunity to keep competing,” said head coach Molly Mordaunt-Hummel about the sport, which is still fairly new to the college scene.

Last season the Mustangs beach team went 6-7 and saw their No. 1 team of Kelly Markham and Amilya Thompson make it to the state finals. This year the No. 1 team will have Angelique Stepanoff partner with Kaitlyn Morenzone.

“I’m going to state this year for beach,” said Stepanoff about her goals for this upcoming season as she returns for her sophomore year with a new partner in the freshman Morenzone. “That’s my goal – for me and Kaitlyn – is to make it to state.”

“Ang(elique) is more explosive and dominant as an attacker, but Kaitlyn is really crafty,” said Mordaunt-Hummel. “They have really good chemistry and I think they make a good pair together.”

With a year of experience on the sand, Stepanoff said she now has a better idea of what it will take to accomplish her goal of making it to state. “I’m a smarter player and I know what to expect now. I trained during December for the beach so that I am physically ready so I don’t get tired during games.”

Besides going from inside to outside and the change of going from six players on the court to just two there are other changes for the game as well. 

“It’s all about ball control,” said Mordaunt-Hummel.

“I like that I can be smart,” said Stepanoff. “I just like being outdoors. It’s a change of scenery. It’s just all about playing smart and I like that different aspect. I don’t have to pound the ball to get points.”

Among the other changes from the indoor to outdoor game is the fact that coaches can’t coach during play which puts it more on the players to figure things out along with their partner and is something that the players and coaches are both still getting used to it.

“You have to just outsmart your opponent, keep playing the ball, and always give effort,” said Stepanoff. “The more effort you give, the more balls that get up and they can make a mistake on.”

During the indoor season, Stepanoff led the Mustangs with 366 kills while Morenzone was second on the team with 89 assists.

“My goal is just for us to keep getting better and better,” said Mordaunt-Hummel. “I think that this group across the board is a little more balanced. From the twos through the fives it’s really hard to determine who is going to be in those positions.”

Making up the No. 2 team will be Kiana Day and Aliah Cortez. Cortez who redshirted during the indoor season was mentioned as someone to watch during beach season by Mordaunt-Hummel for her great all-around play.

Stephanie Fopiano will be partnered with Jessica Smith on the No. 3 team. “She’s really crafty and has great ball control,” said Mordaunt-Hummel about Fopiano who made it to the playoffs last year with a different partner.

Lauren Hicks and Karina Fardmanesh will make up the No. 4 team while Angelica Mercado and Sofia Tringolo will be the No. 5 team.

The season gets underway on Wednesday with a pair of matches at Gavilan before the Mustangs return home and take on the University of the Pacific on Friday.