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Beach volleyball brings rewarding experiences for Alamance County’s Allred sisters

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

All it took was sampling of beach volleyball and Reilly Allred was pretty much hooked.

It took her all the way to beach volleyball’s version of the NCAA Final Four.

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Allred, a Western Alamance graduate, completed her collegiate career by playing a central role for Louisiana State University’s (LSU’s) team.

LSU’s Reilly Allred | Photo by: Sean Cripple

“I decided to go to LSU because it’s a faith-based program,” she said.

She took part in four NCAA Tournament teams with the Tigers. Her sister, Madison Allred, also wrapped up a collegiate career in beach volleyball this spring with Coastal Carolina.

Madison Allred, Coastal Carolina

“We started playing beach in the summers,” Madison said.

The more the Allred sisters played, the more they embraced the sport.

“It’s growing, for sure,” Reilly said. “All these schools are adding it.”

She was part of special times with LSU.

As a sophomore, Reilly Allred and Holly Carlton racked up 32 victories, ranking as the third-most in a season in program history. This year, Allred and Parker Bracken went 27-9, capped by a 3-0 record in NCAA Tournament play and spot on the all-tournament team last month at Gulf Shores, Alabama.

“Her ability to meet what we needed,” LSU coach Russell Brock said of the North Carolinian’s impact. “You saw her growth from when she arrived to when she left.”

The Allred/Bracken pairing defeated opponents from Texas Christian and then knocked off third-ranked Stanford to clinch LSU’s spot in the Final Four. For Allred, that resulted in a postmatch ESPN interview.

LSU’s Reilly Allred, a Western Alamance alum, was fired up during a special season with the Tigers.

Reilly Allred, center, and teammate Parker Bracken during a postmatch interview after lifting LSU to the Final Four.

The Tigers’ bid for a national title ended with a 3-1 loss to No. 2 UCLA in the national semifinals, with Allred/Bracken posting the point for LSU on Court 2. Yet the No. 11 seed LSU had pulled off the biggest upset in tournament history with the 3-2 conquest of Stanford.

The experience, though, was rewarding.

“It grew me as a player,” Reilly said. “Playing at NCAAs, it built confidence in myself. It was a crazy way to end my four years.”

Reilly’s impact on LSU grew, in part because of her versatility, Brock said. He said she adjusted as her partners changed.

“She played so many different roles for us,” Brock said. “She had the ability to be a great partner to someone just learning the sport and then this year she had more of a role as a blocker.”

Brock said Reilly’s career record of 89-32 reflected her ability to adapt and excel, including 97 percent of her matches in one of the two top categories late in her career.

Brock, who has been with the LSU program since its inception in 2014 and became head coach in 2017, has a strong sense of the team’s history. The Tigers reached the Final Four for the second time this year.

“She came in and was a scholarship player, expected to be a contributor in the most competitive environment,” he said of Reilly Allred. “We’re looking for players who can fit the need physically and mentally. She came in off the radar, unknown and left making a huge statement on our program and in our sport.”

 

No beach bums

Beach volleyball, with two players on the court forming a team, has a certain intrigue.

“You have to be good at every skill,” Reilly said. “Indoor volleyball is very specialized.”

The Allreds played volleyball as youths, competing for Burlington-based Fusion. They also competed with Western Alamance’s indoor team, but that ended for Reilly after her junior season.

“I started to love this a lot more than indoor,” she said. “I quit to focus on beach.”

The Allred sisters played for Greensboro-based Beach South Volleyball Club. That gave them more exposure to the sport and they benefited from visibility.

“At first we weren’t part of a club,” Madison said. “We had to try to be seen.”

Madison, who’s more of a defender at 5-foot-6, embraced the action aspect of beach volleyball with only two players per team in action on the court.

[Story continues below photos.]

Coastal Carolina’s Madison Allred, right, and teammate Raychel Ehlers celebrate a point.

“I was able to touch the ball every single play,” she said.

There are deep family connections to athletics. Their father, Alan Allred, was involved with the Association of Volleyball Professionals. Their mother, Kimberly Allred, was a Clemson cheerleader, while their brother, Brooks Allred, plays men’s basketball for Mt. Olive.

Madison had considerable success for Coastal Carolina. She and teammate Raychel Ehlers received an AVCA Top Flight Award for their efforts this year. They went 19-3 in Court 5 matches, setting a program record with 16 consecutive victories as a pair.

The Allred/Ehlers tandem boosted the Chanticleers to the Sun Belt Conference championship match in Huntsville, Alabama, and received league all-tournament honors. In 2023, Allred/Ehlers gained top-flight distinction on Court 4.

“I worked my way into (the lineup) more my junior and senior years,” Madison said. “It allowed me to build so many relationships with so many people.”

Reilly graduated from LSU with a degree in kinesiology with a concentration in physical activity and health. At Coastal Carolina, Madison has a degree in communications with a minor in marketing and is finishing masters work in business administration.

“I’m sad that it’s over,” Reilly said of the collegiate phase, though she’s making plans to move to California and keep it going. “I’m trying to play professional.”

Madison, 23, said she’ll likely continue to play beach volleyball, but more on a recreational basis on weekends and in summers.


Photos compliments of Louisiana State University Athletics (Reilly Allred) and Coastal Carolina University Athletics (Madison Allred)

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