Could Zana Muno Be the next Great Beach Volleyball Player to Come out of the South Bay?
On the rise.
- Written & photographed byKat Monk
In early 2023, Susannah “Zana” Muno received a phone call from four-time Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings—the greatest female blocker in the history of the sport. Kerri wanted to make a run for the 2024 Paris Olympics with Zana as her defender. At just 27, Zana knew this was the type of call that stops you in your tracks and confirms that you made the right choices in life.
What made Zana appealing to a veteran like Kerri was the fact that the year prior, Zana led the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) in digs per set—the average number of times a defensive player keeps a bona fide attack in play with a pass. She also demonstrates an ability to find success no matter who is her blocker.
“Zana is the real deal. I admire her so very much because she lives her craft and her life so sincerely,” says Kerri. “She knows who she is, she knows what she values, and she’s all in to live her dreams and values no matter how uncomfortable it might be. That, to me, is a champion. She is meant for great things on and off the court.”
“Zana is the real deal. I admire her so very much because she lives her craft and her life so sincerely. She knows who she is, she knows what she values, and she’s all in to live her dreams and values no matter how uncomfortable it might be.”
Unfortunately, after a couple of tournaments—one in Miami and another in Brazil—Kerri endured an injury that forced her out of a good portion of the 2023 season so far. With the Olympics less than a year away, that leaves Zana in a precarious situation since most Americans have already partnered up for their opportunity to represent the United States. If not Paris, it’s only a matter of time.
Zana comes from a family of athletes. Her dad played football, her mom was a golfer, and her brother JJ plays professional baseball for Mexico. Growing up, Zana idolized her brother. Being professional athletes has brought them closer, and they’ve become each other’s greatest resource.
Zana met her boyfriend, Micah Ma’a, while playing beach volleyball at UCLA. Micah played on their indoor team and continued professionally overseas for the last five years. The two often practice together on the beach, and he has helped her work on her game mindset.
One of the most challenging parts of being a professional beach volleyball player is making a living. “It is hard to survive if you happen to not be one of the top four or five teams,” shares Zana.
Although she was initially resistant to social media, she has slowly realized it is a viable income source. Wilson, maker of beach volleyballs, was her first sponsor. And although health and wellness brands on social media are the preferred choices for many beach volleyball players, Zana migrated toward beauty products like Corsica Scents—natural items without chemicals.
To keep her social media real, Zana is known for posting outtakes—the images many photographers delete before sending the photos to athletes. Though outtakes are not the most polished or attractive image, they appeal to Zana’s followers for their authenticity. Zana takes great pleasure in showing all sides of herself.
“Zana is kind, thoughtful, tough as hell and sincere in her ways,” adds Kerri. “I am a fan.”
When not on the sand, Zana spends time on her family farm connecting with nature. “The farm is my happy place,” she adds. “I have always loved working with my hands, and having some land to work has reminded me that I feel like the best version of myself when I am working with the earth and with animals and plants.”