Former Mira Costa standout Hayley Lawson-Blanchard takes over the Mustang’s girls volleyball program. Courtesy photo
Mira Costa’s prestigious girls volleyball team has a new head coach and, once again, the selection committee chose a person with strong ties to the school and its storied history in volleyball.
Hayley Lawson-Blanchard, 25, of Manhattan Beach takes over the reigns of the Mustang program after Lisa Acre-Zimmerman stepped down after seven years as head coach to spend more time with her family. Zimmerman played for legendary Mira Costa coach DaeLea Aldrich before returning to serve as assistant for more than 15 years.
Like her predecessor, Lawson-Blanchard is a former Mustang. She helped lead Mira Costa CIF and State titles in 2005 and 2006 and a National Championship during her senior year in 2006.
She was a four-year starting setter at Davidson College in North Carolina and is second in career assists.
Lawson-Blanchard’s sisters Erika (Pepperdine), Nikki (Virginia) and Mandi (UCLA) also played at Mira Costa prior to their college careers.
“I’m honored and thrilled,” Lawson-Blanchard said of the hiring. “This means everything to me. My sisters and I played at Mira Costa and I have nieces coming into the program now. Mira Costa volleyball has been a big part of my life.”
Lawson-Blanchard will have big shoes to fill, but is excited about the challenge of leading a program that has won 15 CIF championships, seven state titles and four national championships.
“I was all alone in the gym the other day and it smelled just like it did when I played here,” Lawson-Blanchard said. “I realized that this is mine now. I looked at the banners on the wall and read all the dates that my sisters and I were part of. I want to add more dates to those banners.”
Lawson-Blanchard said she expects competition to be stiff among players vying for playing time. The varsity squad loses only three players from last year’s team that went 23-9 and reached the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA quarterfinals.
Lawson-Blanchard already has a strong relationship with the returning seniors, most of whom she mentored when she was Mira Costa’s junior varsity coach in 2012. There are also two members from Surfside Volleyball Club teams coached by Lawson-Blanchard who also serves as the club’s director.