The rise of the Boise State beach volleyball program

Boise State beach volleyball, Danielle Boss, Madison Nichols
Photo by Corissa Campbell

Boise State’s beach volleyball team has turned the tide after coming off a 6-11 record last year, the team finished with a 20-9 record this year, picking up a win against No. 13 California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) on April 23, their first win against a ranked opponent this season.

Each match for beach volleyball goes five sets against each opponent, consisting of different duos each set, 10 players per matchup.

A complete turnaround from last year, the beach volleyball team is trying to build something special moving forward.

Allison Voigt has seen the team change drastically in her three years as the head coach. In the 2019 season, Voigt was able to guide the program to a 13-6 record. The team’s 13 wins set a school record in 2019 before shattering it with their 18 wins and counting this year.

“It is really exciting to see the growth, not only in our program but our schedule,” Voigt said. “Expanding our schedule and getting more wins has me excited for the future.”

The 2022 season started off bumpy in their first two tournaments with a record of 3-6 but has since been on a tear, going 15-3 since March 5.

Boise State beach volleyball, Danielle Boss, Madison Nichols
[Senior Danielle Boss (#4) and freshman Madison Nichols (#15) in a beach volleyball match on April 2.]
Photo by Corissa Campbell | The Arbiter

However, with a few seasons in the books, Voigt is wanting this program to grow its success even more moving forward.

“We want to be a top 25 program, we want to be in a conference that is competitive, knocking on the door of the NCAA tournament,” Voigt said. “In my first couple of years here, I was trying to figure out how to build that.”

Now being on the team for a few years, senior Ellie McDonald has been able to see the program change before her eyes.

“Since I have been on the team, I have seen a lot more growth in team camaraderie,” McDonald said. “I think there is just a greater appreciation for the sport itself.”

Beach volleyball’s 2020 season was cut short after four games due to COVID-19, but the pandemic was a time of reflection and growth for the players.

“[The pandemic] has made us appreciate the little things,” McDonald said. “Each little win over COVID was a huge win for us, like not having to wear masks on the beach court or weight room.”

Now that a sense of normalcy is being felt by the program, the team is excited to see how they finish out the season.

Fifth-year player Erin Martin, who transferred from Loyola Marymount University, has been pleased with how the team has been performing this year.

“We are hitting the point where we are hitting program records, all-time wins and competing hard with ranked opponents,” Martin said. “It is really awesome to see that development.”

Martin continued by mentioning her and her former teammate Evi Wilson’s most impressive win, which was at the 2021 Boise State Beach Classic on April 16 when she and Wilson took down Arizona’s duo, which was ninth in the country at the time.

While the team is 0-5 against ranked opponents this year, they are confident that they can get to that level sooner rather than later.

Culture plays a big part in trying to get to the level of ranked teams. The driving forces behind the Boise State beach volleyball culture are Martin and other upperclassmen, who have taken pride in upholding a positive and uplifting environment for this program.

“We are all very supportive of one another, this is probably the most family-like team that I have ever been a part of,” Martin said. “I feel like I have had a big part to do with that along with other upperclassmen because we believe in that kind of culture.”

The mindset to finish out the season is to win these last four games to continue to build that winning and family-like culture for the program moving forward. 

This has been a record-breaking season for the beach volleyball team, but they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

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