Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Girls Volleyball Player of the Year: Liza Beigel, Amherst

Amherst’s Liza Beigel (1) serves in the fourth set against Holliston during the MIAA Division 3 quarterfinal  in Amherst.

Amherst’s Liza Beigel (1) serves in the fourth set against Holliston during the MIAA Division 3 quarterfinal in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Amherst captains Emerson Joyce, from left, Talia Sadiq and Liza Beigel receive the MIAA Division 3 Final Four plaque after defeating Holliston in Amherst.

Amherst captains Emerson Joyce, from left, Talia Sadiq and Liza Beigel receive the MIAA Division 3 Final Four plaque after defeating Holliston in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By HANNAH BEVIS

For the Gazette

Published: 01-14-2024 3:00 PM

Modified: 01-14-2024 11:36 PM


Before she became the best libero in Western Mass., Amherst’s Liza Beigel was trying to decide whether she wanted to keep playing volleyball or not. 

Beigel grew up playing soccer and was an excellent player, joining a club team and competing against stiff competition. In the seventh grade, at the suggestion of her sister, she gave volleyball a try and quickly fell in love with the sport. It was new and exciting, and she was making a lot of good friends.

When high school rolled around, she had to choose one – volleyball and soccer are fall sports, and she couldn’t play both. Ultimately, she decided to stay with volleyball. 

“I think part of it was I'd been playing soccer for so long, and playing at a high level for so long that I just started to lose my love for it. Volleyball was this new fun thing with new friends, just a whole new sport. And I was looking for something new and feeling done with soccer,” Beigel said. “But there was a lot of back and forth. There was a time where I signed up for volleyball tryouts the night before because I was like, ‘No, I'm gonna play soccer’ and then I didn't.” 

It seems like it’s been the right decision for Beigel. As a libero, Beigel is the last line of defense for the Hurricanes. Though it’s not an easy position to play, Beigel often makes it look easy. She’s usually in the right spot for a perfect receive, and can pass the ball accurately over to her setter, making it easy for the ‘Canes to keep their offense moving smoothly. Those skills helped Beigel en route to being named the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Girls Volleyball Player of the Year.

“Personally (my goals were) just being more aggressive on my side. Just having a libero presence and taking up more of the court,” Beigel said. 

This year’s team also had lofty goals that they hoped to accomplish. Amherst had 10 seniors on its roster this season and most of them had been playing together since the seventh grade. They wanted to win Western Mass. and get as far in the state tournament as they could. It helped that they’d moved down a division for the state tournament, giving them a more even playing field. If there was ever a year for them to go far, this was the one. 

“It was very bittersweet,” Beigel said on playing with her fellow seniors. “It was so much fun playing together. But it was also the year we had always been talking about since seventh grade… so we were ready for a good season and ready to all play together. It was also really sad that it was our last season ever playing together.”

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Though they fell just short in Western Mass., the ’Canes made it all the way to the Class A championship match against Longmeadow. Then they reached the Final Four of the MIAA Division 3 state tournament via a dramatic five-set quarterfinal win over Holliston. Ultimately, Amherst fell to a tough No. 1 Medfield team in the semis, but it capped a remarkable season for Beigel and the ‘Canes. 

Beigel hopes she can keep playing volleyball in college – she’s waiting to hear back from a handful of NESCAC schools in Amherst, Hamilton and Bates.