By Rob LeDonne
Samantha Cash was only 11 years old when she started playing volleyball, and during those early days she freely admits now she had little skill.
“When I first started playing, I was so bad,” she remembers. “The team I was on was absolutely terrible. We were last in the county, and barely won a game. However, it was a great experience because we were all having fun.”
Cash, a 2011 graduate of Canyon Crest Academy, has come a long way from her humble beginnings playing the sport. She’s currently not only a star player for Pepperdine University’s volleyball team, but can currently be found in the Pepperdine record books.
“I don’t pay attention to any of the accolades, but I’m pretty sure my mom does,” she said from the school’s Los Angeles-area campus. As a middle blocker for the team, Cash has a hitting percentage of .322, a feat that ranks her tied for eighth in the Pepperdine record book. “My hitting percentage I do follow, because I’m always trying to beat it,” said Cash. “I’ll beat it next year.”
Cash honed her volleyball skills all over North County; she’s played for various club teams (including Coast Volleyball Club), and was also a major part of Canyon Crest’s women’s volleyball team.
“School volleyball (compared to club) is so much fun because as competitive as it is, it’s a social thing,” Cash explains. “You see your teammates every day at school, and then you practice and play together. Mostly it was a lot of us being great friends. I still keep tabs on the games, but I wish I could go back to see them more often.”
These days, Cash’s time is consumed by her hectic volleyball and academic schedule at Pepperdine (where she’s a film major).
“When I was first looking at schools, I had a list of every single college I was thinking about and weighed them based on how their academics and volleyball was,” Cash says. “They were one of the schools that had both. I was intimidated at first, but my first season was one of the dream seasons you hear about. We went all the way to Elite 8, and traveled to Hawaii for the championships.”
Pepperdine didn’t end up taking home the main prize, but at the end of the season Cash was named the West Coast Conference’s “Freshman of the Year.” “I don’t know why, but throughout the years I seem to get better at playing,” Cash explains. “I was the kind of girl that would always go to extra practices, and I was a gym rat. When I was younger and getting pretty good at it, it makes you want to continue and push harder.”
From here on out, Cash has lofty goals. After taking this upcoming summer off to live with her sister in France (in what will be a rare break from playing), she’s looking forward to her senior year playing for Pepperdine which starts in August.
However, once her senior season ends she doesn’t want that to be the last of her time on the court.
“My life goal is to graduate, go play professionally, then win a gold medal at the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020,” Cash explains. “Based on my age and timing, that could be my best shot at making the team.”