This post, "Once Foes, Michael Saeta And Lucas Yoder Team Up To Win USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships" was originally published on Team USA Volleyball.
By Travis Mewhirter | May 13, 2017, 5:43 p.m. (ET)
HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. — It began three days ago, and yet, it began months ago, on Feb. 3.
USC vs. UC Irvine.
Or, in reality, Michael Saeta vs. Lucas Yoder.
“He was going off, so I had to do something,” Saeta, a setter and opposite hitter for UC Irvine, said of the Anteaters’ 42-40 second-set marathon against USC last February, in which Saeta finished with 21 kills and Yoder, an outside hitter for USC, had 29.
“We saw each other after and said, ‘We should play some beach,’” Saeta recalled.
Three months later, in the USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships at Hermosa Beach, part of the Team USA Summer Championship Series, presented by Comcast, they did. And without a single practice, they won, beating UCLA’s Jackson Bantle and Hagen Smith, 21-16, 21-13.
“We just played a simple game,” said Yoder, who finished with five kills, three aces and a block. “We matched up well against them.”
Indeed. Yoder and Saeta both stand 6-foot-5, while Smith, the son of the legendary Sinjin Smith, and Bantle, are both generously listed at 6-foot-1. The mismatch showed, namely in the errors column, in which Smith and Bantle made 19 in the match.
“They couldn’t get in a rhythm,” Yoder said.
The win earns Saeta and Yoder a spot on the USA Volleyball collegiate beach national team. While they’re not sure what, exactly, that entails for the remainder of the summer, they know this: It was nice for men’s beach volleyball, which is not an NCAA-recognized varsity sport yet, to alas have a platform.
“It was a really cool tournament for us,” Saeta said. “We didn’t expect it, necessarily. The venue is awesome, NBC (which is televising the finals on NBC Sports Network) was awesome, and it was just really cool.”