Ivy Reynolds is one of several fifth-year student-athletes taking on the beach game for the first time. The Lindenwood alumna is in her first spring at Missouri State after graduating early.
Reynolds, who transferred to Missouri State after a four-year indoor career at Lindenwood, saw time at defensive specialist, setter and right side hitter in 115 career indoor matches.
All told, the 5-11 Ozark, Missouri, native notched 1119 assists, 804 digs, 186 kills, 80 blocks and 57 aces. She did it all for the Lions in 2017, dishing out 5.71 assists per set, while adding 2.27 digs and 1.26 kills per set, 54 blocks and 29 aces in 33 matches.
Missouri State is 6-6 on the season with a Thursday home match on slate against Ottawa. The Bears then have a three-week break before an April 13 matchup with Coastal Carolina.
In her third entry, Reynolds talks travel, the highs of her first beach season and firsts for the Missouri State program.
Growing up, my family didn’t go on “vacation.” Any trips we took revolved around sports (of course), visiting family, or checking out the local historical sites (which is always a go-to when your dad is a teacher). In fact, it wasn’t until I was 16 that I flew in an airplane for the first time. Naturally, that experience was sports-based, as I was headed to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for High Performance camps. My next two flights were also volleyball-centered: one to Orlando for AAU Nationals and another back to Colorado Springs for my first collegiate tournament as a freshman at Lindenwood.
Clearly, I have sports to thank for a majority of my travel experience. But, until recently, I hadn’t felt very grateful. Sure, I can say I’ve been to Nashville, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Louisville, but when all you see of the city is the inside of a convention center, it’s hard to feel like you really went there at all. I was visiting all these great places, only to be too exhausted at the end of bracket play to enjoy them. Car/bus ride, hotel, gym, and repeat. That’s the way it’s been, at least, until I decided to play an outdoor sport.
It’s almost laughable that I signed to play beach. I mean, let’s think about this for a second. I grew up in Southwest Missouri, living in the same house in Ozark for 18 years. (Pause: if you don’t know where Missouri is in relation to the closest beach, we’re about 12 hours straight north of the Gulf, a good 13 hours from Florida and a solid 16 from the coastal Carolinas.) I then lived in the St. Louis area for another three years before moving back here to Springfield- all the time, never leaving the border of the Show-Me state. Similar to my flight experience- or lack of- my beach time had also been limited. Prior to college, I had seen the ocean only twice.
Last week, I saw it for 8 days straight.
Over spring break, we played 11 matches in California at five different locations: two beaches and three universities. I collected so many “firsts” in just one week of play. First time in California, first time seeing the Pacific, first poke bowl (yum), and first time playing competitively on a real beach. More importantly, Missouri State notched its first win in program history, and finished with six by the end of the week. On a personal level, my partner Lynsey Wright and I came away with seven wins, including an upset over California State University-Northridge.
The whole trip really put some perspective in my mind. I’ve played indoor volleyball for over half my life. I’ve made countless memories and friends, achieved milestones, and traveled all over the Midwest. I’ve been playing beach volleyball for half a season and it seems to almost rival the last 10 years in terms of highlights. On the flight back home, looking out an American Airlines window at the western states below, I reflected on how blessed I am to be in this position and the amount of thanks I owe to the sport of volleyball. At only three months in, I can only imagine the firsts, the foods (I had to) and wins that are in store for this program. I have 14 months left before the NCAA makes me turn in my college athlete badge, but luckily, those months will be spent in the sand and sun, with no convention center ceilings in sight.