Beach volleyball has triumphant return

Renegades’ success in second year could bring state title to college

Jesse Najera
Sophomore Savannah Cano launches a serve against Cal State LA on April 22.

Sam L. Jaime, Sports Editor

The Bakersfield College beach volleyball program is nearing the end of its second season in the Western State Conference. The Renegades have found continuing success heading into the latter stages of this season, qualifying for the CCCAA State Beach Team Championship, to be hosted at West Valley College on May 5 at 10 a.m.After competing in a WSC Playoff game at Ventura on April 28, the teams of No. 1 Mackenzie Hernandez and Hannah Pope, No. 2 Brooke Horack and Jourdan Muro, No. 3 Alex Paris and Reece Stevenson, and No. 4 McKenna Baameur and Savanah Cano qualified for the CCCAA State Beach Individual Championships on May 6 and 7, also at West Valley College, beginning at 10 a.m.

According to, the Renegades have a 6-4 overall record, including a 2-2 record in conference play as of May 1. While the Renegades seek to capture the conference’s highest honor, a feat accomplished last year by El Camino College, the Renegades highest ranked duo took time to reflect on their twoyear journey through the program.

Sophomores Hernandez and Pope have been in the program since its 2016 inaugural season, taking on a leadership role throughout their progression to this point. “I think it’s great being part of a young program, setting the example for the upcoming athletes that will go through the program. It’s exciting being a part of something brand new, you set the tone. I consider myself a leader just because I am a sophomore, and my partner [Hannah Pope] and I are the number one team, and we have the personalities of leaders,” said Hernandez.

Pope echoed a similar sentiment saying, “It’s so much fun getting to learn the sport together and develop the program. Yes, I would definitely consider myself a leader. I think a lot of sophomores have stepped up as leaders in beach [volleyball] because we learned so much about the game last year and have been able to relay that knowledge both in words and in actions.” The tandem has also starred as part of the indoor volleyball program, helping to lead the team into the playoffs where they were eliminated in the opening round.

The loss would signal the end of the sophomore pair’s BC indoor volleyball careers, making beach volleyball their last semester of intercollegiate volleyball competition at BC. The value of this finality is not lost on Hernandez. “It’s been very important because every season helps me develop my skills even more and I love all the relationships I have developed here at Bakersfield College. It’s also given me an opportunity to be with my family another semester,” she said.

The sentiment of family and unity is a major ideology of the beach volleyball program, one that has been cultivated by head coach Carl Ferreira. Ferreira, who is also the head coach of the BC indoor volleyball program, began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Fresno State University from 1991-1992, and at Stanford from 1993-1994. From there, Ferreira became a head coach, with stops at Cal State University of Bakersfield, the University of Idaho, and the University of Oregon before taking the reins at Bakersfield College in 2006.

The effects of the culture developed by Ferreira, on the program and its players, has gone much deeper than stat sheets or scorecards. “Coach Carl [Ferreira] has had a huge impact on me as an individual. He’s taught me so much about not just volleyball, but life as well. He gave me confidence in every area of my life beginning with on the court. He believed in me my freshman year when I had lost belief in myself after a rough senior year [in high school]. He looked at me like I could achieve anything and made me feel like that was true. Along with that, he taught me to be confident in every area of my life. As for the beach [volleyball] program, he has had a huge impact on that as well. Not many coaches can transition from indoor to beach the way he did, and it is such a cool experience to see him learning some things right along with us,” said Pope.

Hernandez and Pope had some adjustments to make of their own when shifting from indoor to beach volleyball. “It’s a completely different dynamic. Especially since you only have one other person on the court with you, you’re touching the ball every single play. You’re involved in every play and it’s much more important that you’re at your best every single game. Your chemistry with your partner is essential too. In indoor, you can get away with having at least four [out of six] girls in sync and on the same page, but in beach, you both have to be in sync and on the same page no matter what,” said Pope.

Those adjustments have paid huge dividends for the pair, resulting in a third-place finish on April 28 at the WSC State Individual Championships in Ventura, and the possibility of team state championships on the horizon. Both attribute their success to their ability to thrive together. “Being Hannah’s partner is awesome because she’s such a strong athlete and she helped me so much on my defense and I help her on her offense. We listen to each other and trust each other so much. I believe the key to beach volleyball is to have a partner that has the same goals, work ethic and hustle on the court. We always remember to cheer each other on, and we forgive each other if someone makes a mistake. I’m so blessed to have such an amazing partner for beach [volleyball],” said Hernandez.

Pope offered a similar take, saying “It’s amazing being part of that dynamic. I think our relationship is a very unique one. We always say we think our brain waves are intertwined. I think our communication is what makes us such a powerful pair. There’s not a play that goes by where we aren’t talking to each other about the game and communicating what’s happening. I think our ability to see the game and tell each other what is open and what is changing is what makes it flow so well.” While the curtain has yet to
drop on their final season, Hernandez and Pope can already attribute their experience in beach volleyball to a hopeful future. “I think playing beach volleyball has helped my court game so much. It will help me move forward when I play for the University of Arizona. Being able to see the court so much faster will definitely improve my court game,” said Hernandez. For Hannah Pope however, it appears the future will take another path. “A lot lies in store for me after this. I will be getting married this May and living on Camp Pendleton while going to school at CSU San Marcos. Though collegiate volleyball will be over for me, I look forward to using everything it has taught me in my next adventure,” said Pope.