UCLA beach volleyball has hired Jeff Alzina as its new volunteer assistant coach.
“I hope that I can be an extra set of eyes with a little bit of extra experience and maybe a different perspective that will be their push to compete for a national championship and not just be a top-five-type team but actually really attempt to win this year,” Alzina said.
Alzina has over 20 years of coaching experience and has coached at the club, college, professional and Olympic levels. Alzina coached both head coach Stein Metzger and assistant coach Jenny Johnson Jordan during their professional careers.
“He has head coach knowledge. The fact that we get to bring him on as an assistant is a total miracle,” Metzger said. “He could take a program to the top five in no time in this country, and we’re just lucky that he happens to live in the area and he was available.”
Metzger said that Alzina’s strength is in his forward thinking in terms of what is going to make teams and individuals better.
“Each person is a different person, so he doesn’t just coach to the sport and his ideas, he coaches to the person and the pair, the partnership,” Metzger said. “Each partnership has different strengths and weaknesses and he can really evaluate that and help them along.”
Alzina has served as a national team coach for eight different countries, but he comes to UCLA by way of Long Beach State, where he helped the 49ers to a 26-10 season and a visit to the NCAA finals.
The UC Santa Barbara alum will also coach the United States in the U19 World Championships in July.
Alzina said he was drawn to UCLA because of his history of working with Bruins on the professional beach volleyball circuit – he’s coached more UCLA players than players from any other program.
The Bruins just signed Alzina this week, but he has already noticed the depth of UCLA’s team compared to other programs.
“They’re deep, they’re young, they have a lot of ball control, and they’re really competitive,” Alzina said. “In the big picture, for a title, they look like the underdog role is going to fit really well. They’re a little bit young and scrappy and are not the favorites, but they’re going to be right there.”
The Bruins will open their 2018 campaign Feb. 24 at the Rainbow Wahine Classic.