The team of Sam Manley and Hailey Devlin lead Arizona’s beach volleyball team with 16-5 record. The two are poised to compete in — and win — the Pac-12 sand volleyball tournament, held at Bear Down Beach next week.
First, the Wildcats will host a pair of Pac-12 opponents. The UA will take on Stanford on Friday night, and Cal Saturday afternoon.
“We have nothing to lose,” Manley said.
Manley and Devlin are both products of San Diego, a hot spot for beach volleyball. Manley prepped at San Pasqual High School and competed in 2013 AAU Best of the Beach; she was also selected for the USA Junior National Beach team.
Devlin attended nearby Scripps Ranch High School, where she finished with the best record in school history her senior year. She also was selected for the USA Junior National Beach team.
Volleyball is their main focus, but their work in the classroom is also a huge priority.
“We both come from families that pushed that education comes first,” said Devlin. “We think that is a big reason why we are so motivated in the classroom.”
Both use the UA’s academic services extensively.
“It helps us make sure we complete all of our homework and study for exams,” Manley said.
The pair not only want to compete in next week’s tournament, but win and add to an already successful season.
To win the Pac-12 “would be amazing,” Manley said. “Not only would it be winning a major title,” she added. “It would also allow us to play in the national tournament.”
The pair believes it can compete with the best pairs in the country, starting with this weekend.
“It was really exciting because they are a three-time national championship team,” said Manley. “I grew up playing against the girls we competed against, so it was very exciting to beat them.”
Before the postseason starts, however, the duo has some work to do. Manley said the pair is hoping to improve on its serving and defense.
“We need to keep on reminding each other to stay aggressive,” she said. “Sometimes we go back into our comfort zone and that is when we play down to other teams’ levels.”