Stevenson women’s beach volleyball flies through preseason

Mustangs head south to North Carolina for their first tournament starting Feb. 23
Sophomore Nicolette Fuglestad flies after a ball during a match last year
Sophomore Nicolette Fuglestad flies after a ball during a match last year
@stevenson_wvb – Instagram

The Stevenson Mustangs women’s beach volleyball team has begun preparations for their opening season contest. The season kicks off against Division II Emmanuel University at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, North Carolina at 8 a.m., Feb. 23.  

The Mustangs have been prolific on the beach courts for the last few years. In 2022, they won the DIII AVCA Small College Beach National Championship. In 2023 they were the number one ranked team going into the National Championship before unfortunate results led to them grabbing third place.   

The Mustangs have a busy travel schedule ahead of them this year. They travel south for five consecutive weeks including an eight-match spring break trip to Florida, followed by matches in Georgia and Virginia, before returning to Mustang Beach for a four-match home stand on April 5 – 6.  

Dave Trumbo, head coach of the beach team since its 2016 inaugural season, does his best to lighten the load for his players.   

“It’s a short season but it’s a hard season,” Trumbo said, “If I can, I try and get us back here on Saturday night so at least they have Sunday to prepare for the week.”

Caleigh Bernota serves a ball last year during one of their many travel weekends. (Instagram – @stevenson_wvb)

For the players, it can be a lot to manage, but it is a fun season, nonetheless.   

“Sometimes it is a lot to balance everything, but getting to travel with my teammates makes it so much fun,” Caleigh Bernota, a senior from Adamstown, Maryland said. “Setting priorities and effectively managing my time is how I stay motivated. The season is much more enjoyable when I can focus on playing and spending time with my teammates.”   

Bernota and her partner, Sima Kahoussi, represent another part of what makes the Mustangs so competitive. A great balance of newcomer talent and senior leadership. Kahoussi, a first-year from Apex, North Carolina, has been excellent in both the fall season, and the first few weeks of practice.   

“She had a great fall season, and she has just continued that into the spring season,” Trumbo said. “She is a great addition and super competitive.”  

“My first collegiate experience will be a learning curve for me, but I am looking forward to playing in the competitive and fun environment created at practice,” Kahoussi said. “Playing with an upperclassman is a great opportunity for me to learn and grow more as a player as well as help me adjust to college athletics more. So far, I am having a lot of fun playing with Caleigh and I am excited to see what the rest of the season holds.” 

Olivia Simon serving during the 2022 beach season, they would go on to win the National Championship (Instagram – @oliviasiimon)

The team will also return some key players from injury. Olivia Simon, a senior from Bel Air, Maryland, is one of them. Simon, a key player on the 2022 championship team, tore her ACL in April of 2022. Due to recovery and minor setbacks, Simon missed the 2022 and 2023 indoor seasons and the 2023 beach season. However, after being cleared, the team is thrilled to have her back.   

“She has worked so hard to get back and each day she has gotten better and better,” Trumbo said. “I couldn’t be happier for her, she’s playing great and will be one of our top pairs. She’s very unselfish and adds so much leadership to our team and where we want to go.”   

For Simon, she’s ecstatic to be back and ready to enjoy every moment. 

“My main goal going into my first season back is to enjoy the moment. I want to look at every practice and tournament as an opportunity to do something I love,” Simon said. “Mentally, I am focused on staying positive, being patient with myself, and embracing the process. I understand that it will take time to get back to where I was before my injury, but I am committed to working hard and doing whatever it takes to contribute to the team’s success.” 

The Stevenson women’s beach volleyball team is excited about the start of the season and ready to fight for another National Championship. The opening match against Emmanuel University will begin at at 8 a.m. Feb. 23. Away games are often streamed on the Stevenson Women’s Volleyball Instagram page, @stevenson_wvb.

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About the Contributor
Kevin Kouchoukos, Sports Reporter
Kevin is a sophomore communication studies major with a minor in marketing from Nottingham, New Hampshire. He wants to pursue a career in sports media and PR. Outside of The Villager, Kevin also works with the athletic communications department. He is also a member of the Stevenson men's beach and indoor volleyball teams. Kevin also has a cockapoo named Wrigley and two cats named Pumpkin and Brian.
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