Sports, Women's Sports, Women's Volleyball

Three-time Big West Weekly awardee shares drive for volleyball

Being the youngest in a family of collegiate and professional volleyball players, picking up the sport herself since she was five years old, almost came naturally to this volleyball player.

Now, 14 years later, Zayna Meyer is clad in jersey number one as she receives the Big West Athletic Conference “setter of the week” recognition twice, as well as “freshman of the week” as part of Long Beach State women’s volleyball team.

The Big West Athlete Awards are honors given to players in different sports and different positions across 11 collegiate institutions in California and Hawaii based on the players’ performance each week.

“It was really cool to be able to receive those accolades, especially as a freshman, because it was just like my first time playing in front of people at the college level,” said Meyer. “And it makes me want to get the award every week, but obviously that’s unrealistic.”

Meyer grew up in Wheaton, Illinois, where she played in her high school’s volleyball team and picked up the setter position at just 14 years old.

“High school was a blast. At first I wanted to be an outside hitter but my coach said no,” Meyer said with a laugh.

Meyer took part in various camps and programs growing up, such as the Sports Performance Volleyball Club at Aurora, Illinois which further prepared Meyer for collegiate volleyball.

During her sophomore year of high school, Meyer had a verbal commitment to the Brigham Young University’s women’s volleyball team since the university had a great volleyball program.

“I ended up going there and it just wasn’t exactly what I expected, and I felt a different environment could be better for me,” said Meyer.

After talking to club coaches, friends and family about her experience at BYU, Meyer decided to enter the National Collegiate Athletic Association Portal.

The portal is a way for collegiate players to explore other options and recruitment opportunities, and where coaches can search for available players.

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Zayna Meyer, redshift freshman setter for Long Beach State Women’s Volleyball wears jersey number one. Photo credit: John Fajardo/ LBSU athletics

Through the portal, Meyer found out that Tyler Hildebrand became the head coach of the Long Beach State women’s volleyball team.

Meyer was recruited for a Nebraska volleyball camp when she was a high school freshman, where she met and got coached by Hildebrand for the first time.

“Camps are long days. So when you get these 30 to 45-minute breaks in between sessions, you come in your office, put your feet up, chill out,” Hildebrand said. “But the funny part of that camp was that Zayna would go, ‘Coach, can I get extra time?’ So I couldn’t turn it down, she was so sweet and wanted to get better so I didn’t get a lot of rest during that.”

Meyer said coach Hildebrand was one of the main reasons she decided to join Long Beach State, as she really believes in him as a coach and how his teaching can rebuild CSULB volleyball “back to the dynasty it was”.

“His philosophy is pretty incredible, like using your natural God-given athleticism and ability to the best you can,” Meyer said.

Meyer said it was a bit of a struggle abruptly coming to a new university, but the coaches helped her acclimate with ease. The girls on the team, like her roommate Jaylen Jordan, were also very welcoming.

“I think our team this year is extremely close, we also like to hang out outside of volleyball, going to the beach together, going to games together, stuff like that. So I think that helps with our chemistry,” Jordan, redshirt freshman and outside hitter, said.

Jordan said that the coaching philosophy for this year and season has indeed been motivating to reach more awards and recognitions through Big West, the NCAA and more.

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“I wouldn’t say it’s like a ‘me’ award. It’s like a ‘we’ award,” Meyer said. “I’m very grateful for receiving these recognitions, but that is because of all my coaches and my team, the hitters and how incredible they are.” Photo credit: John Fajardo/ LBSU athletics

“Their whole thing is trying to make us better people both on and off the court, preparing us for life off the court when we graduate, like applying our skills and teamwork,” Jordan said. “Everything that [the coaches] do has a greater purpose and I think it is an amazing thing and a rare thing to see.”

Witnessing Meyer’s improvements from 9th grade to a highly-recruited setter with a “motor-like mind and body that’s constantly running,” Hildebrand said he was happy the coaching and culture at CSULB helped her get recognized and motivated her goal to become a pro-athlete.

“It’s kind of crazy how it all worked out,” Meyer said. “I expected to find a place better than BYU but I didn’t expect to fall in love with volleyball again more than I have in years.”

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