SANTA BARBARA - Ariana Garner is returning to the East Beach courts where she will take over as the head coach of the SBCC women's beach volleyball team.
Garner, 25, is a former star indoor player for SBCC, earning all-conference honors as a setter on a pair of WSC championship squads in 2012-13. The 2013 team went 19-8 and finished fifth in the state. She also played two years on the Vaqueros' successful club beach volleyball team.
She went on to play two years of beach volleyball at Long Beach State. She is the only player in program history to have 30 digs in a match, and she did it twice. Garner graduated from Long Beach State in May of 2017 with a degree in sociology.
Garner was named head coach of the Santa Barbara High girls volleyball program last year and she'll continue to coach the Dons' indoor team in the fall.
"I am honored to return to SBCC," she stated. "This is where my journey for volleyball took a turn and led me to live out my dream playing D-1 beach volleyball. I hope I can inspire and be a leading example to these young women that hard work and dedication can pay off."
The Vaqueros had a club beach team for years. They played their first year of intercollegiate women's beach volleyball in the spring of 2019.
"Since beach volleyball is such a new sport to many colleges around the U.S., in order for SBCC to contend for the WSC title, we need to draw in athletes who have been training in youth programs," said Garner. "With the game growing faster than ever, there are now many youth clubs around the nation in which young athletes have the opportunity to play and compete at a high level at younger ages.
"Santa Barbara and East Beach is home to some of the greatest beach players of all time. We need to use that as a selling point to draw athletes in, in addition to SBCC being a great avenue for transferring."
Garner said the beach game and indoor volleyball are vastly different.
"Besides court size, ball weight, scoring and the number of players on the court; one of the main differences is that in beach volleyball you cannot control the environmental conditions you are in," she noted. "It is all about the ability to adapt to the conditions. It may be windy, the sun in your eyes or you're playing on burning hot sand. Whoever can best use these elements in their favor, and can adapt best, will be the successful team."
(Dave Loveton, Santa Barbara City Athletics)