From the Valley to the beach: UCLA volleyball player Reagan Hope is a not-to-miss player

Valley product Reagan Hope started her career at Stanford but eventually found that UCLA beach volleyball would be her best fit. (Photo courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

LOS ANGELES – UCLA women’s beach volleyball player Reagan Hope is a dual threat. She’s also 6-feet-2, ambidextrous and seemingly born to the game.

Her skills will be on display Feb. 22, when the Bruins kick off their season. Their early schedule includes a game at Arizona State March 8.

After graduating from Northwest Christian High School in Phoenix, where the Arizona native was a four-year letterwinner in volleyball, Hope knew the sport was as much a part of her DNA as her lyrical name. She was literally raised near a court, doing her school work as a child on the sidelines while her mother coached the high school team.

She first took her talent to the University of Oregon to play indoor volleyball for the women’s team, but once that season was over, she decided to keep playing the sport but with a different approach, trading the shock absorbent synthetic floors for sand from the beach.

Experienced in both indoor and beach volleyball, there are differences that she has observed and leans toward one.

“I prefer beach volleyball,” Hope said. “I play middle blocker so I have to be good at blocking and setting. I have to be a better overall volleyball player. As compared to indoor volleyball, you just have to be good at your individual position.”

She has always been inclined to stay on the West Coast, saying she had always wanted to play for a team in the Pac-12 if she were to be recruited while in high school.

After two years with the Ducks in Eugene, Hope transferred to UCLA, choosing the Bruins, she said, because she wants to win a national championship. The Bruins open the 2024 beach volleyball season against USC in the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Beach Classic. Hope’s transfer to UCLA has had nothing but a positive impact on the team, Bruins beach volleyball coach Jennifer Johnson said.

“Reagan is a natural leader and I think she meshed well with our team from day one even coming in as a transfer. She has a strong voice on the team. She has a really great way of balancing (and) telling hard truths but also caring for her teammates,” Johnson said.

Hope works well with her teammates, developing a strong bond on and off the court.

“Ever since she got here she’s fit in perfectly with all the girls. She’s so hardworking. She has the same goals that our team has right from the start,” teammate Rileigh Powers said.

Volleyball practically runs in Hope’s blood as her aunt, Pam, played at San Diego State, and her mother, Jenna, played for Point Loma in San Diego. Years later, while Reagan was little, her mom secured the job as the volleyball coach at Northwest Christian High School, the same school Reagan eventually attended.

Because Reagan had to go to practice with her mom after school, she encouraged her daughter to participate in the drills and activities since she was just sitting in the gym, which she finally did. Eventually, after attending practice after practice, Hope began to realize she has a passion for the sport and was built for it.

“I just started loving it,” she said. “It was really fun and then I got good at it.”

During her high school volleyball career, Hope had nothing but success, helping Northwest Christian win three-consecutive 3A state titles. She was ranked fourth among middle blockers in the country and second overall in the state of Arizona by PrepVolleyball. And she finished her high school career with 1,568 kills and a .363 hitting percentage while averaging 4.3 kills per set.

Hope was not a player to miss, as her talent caught the attention of team USA volleyball scouts.

“My senior year, I just got an email that said you have been selected for the U20 national team training block.” she said. “I was freaking out because that had been my dream forever.”

Twenty athletes from around the county were selected to travel to Las Vegas for the training block. Out of those 20, 12 – including Hope – were chosen to represent USA’s U20 team and compete against other countries in the Netherlands and Belgium. Team USA finished fifth overall out of 16 teams in the 2021 FIVB U20 World Championship tournament.

Playing for team USA’s U20 team was an unforgettable experience for Hope, especially since she celebrated her 18th birthday while she was in Europe. Beyond that, it gave her an inside look at how immense the sport of volleyball is internationally, from the different playing styles of the other countries to the size and speed of specific teams.

“Playing internationally was definitely interesting because it’s just a different style of volleyball altogether,” Hope said. “Some of the girls are giants, like the Russian national team; the Philippine national team was really short. It was a completely different level of play. In America, it’s very fast-paced. Overseas, it felt like it was very high, almost slow, but the people were way more physical.”

While being a college athlete has its perks, there are setbacks that come with it as Hope maintains a busy schedule. A typical day for her consists of breakfast at 7 a.m., then volleyball practice for two-and-a-half hours. Once practice is over, she receives treatment at the rehabilitation facility for 30 minutes. After rehab, she gets a bite to eat in the cafeteria. Then she attends her classes. To end her day, she spends time with her roommate in their dorm.

Reagan Hope, by all accounts, is a name not easy to forget. She has it all, from a well understanding of the game to a heart full of passion playing the sport that she loves. It’s no surprise that she already has clear visions of her future.

“I want to play volleyball professionally.”

Dalanie Todd(she/her/hers)
Sports Reporter, Los Angeles

Dalanie Todd expects to graduate in May 2024 with a master’s degree in sports journalism. Todd has reported on numerous sports at different levels including high school, college and the pros in the Phoenix area. She interned as a reporter for Sports360AZ and was the beat reporter for Williams Field High School varsity football team for the AIA.