Emmy Allen and Deahna Kraft Bring a Northwest Flair to NCAA Beach National Championships
Emmy Allen and Deahna Kraft will represent the Pacific Northwest at the NCAA Beach Volleyball National Championship for the second year in a row this week. Their teams will meet in the first round when Allen's LSU team faces off against Kraft's #2 seeded Pepperdine Waves on Friday in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The match will be broadcast on ESPNU at 9am Pacific time.
Allen is in her final year of NCAA eligibility. She is concluding a wild collegiate volleyball journey that took her from a state championship team at Jackson High School, to Washington State University, to Gonzaga University where her high school coach and sister was her assistant coach and finally to LSU where she has been a massive part of the Tigers beach program for the past two seasons.
Allen didn't really pick up the game of beach formally until her senior year at Gonazaga when she played in an AVPNext event in Spokane and then went with friend and teammate McKayla Ferris (now at Loyola Marymount University playing beach) to the USA Volleyball High Performance Championship in the collegiate division. Along the way she earned the opportunity to play for LSU and was featured on their #1 team throughout most of her first season there. This year she has helped the Tigers qualify for the National Championship as the #7 seed. In addition, the LSU Beach Volleyball team was awarded the Tiger Cup, the most prestigious award given by the LSU athletic department taking into consideration achievements in competition and the classroom.
Kraft is also in her second year of collegiate beach volleyball but she is only a sophomore at Pepperdine. She earned a starting spot in the Pepperdine team her Freshman year and won her match at the 4 spot in the Waves 2-3 National Championship match loss to USC. This season she has moved up to the #2 team and has made a huge contribution with her imposing physical presence and contagious confidence on the court.
Legendary and soon to be retired Pepperdine head coach Nina Mathies spotted Kraft at a Pepperdine beach volleyball camp and offered her a spot in the program, despite the fact that most of her experience was as an indoor player. Kraft accepted and went on to represent the Puget Sound Region High Performance team on the sand the Washington Volleyball Academy and Garfield High School on the hard court until she graduated in 2016.
The Pepperdine confidence and culture combined with the added motivation to finish with another national championship for Mathies is why the Waves are our pick to win the NCAA Beach Volleyball National Championship.