NCAA elevates Sand Volleyball as championship sport

Jan 17, 2015

Division II and Division III approved sand volleyball as a championship Saturday at the 2015 NCAA Convention, allowing it to advance from the emerging sports for women list to become a full-fledged NCAA championship in Spring 2016.

Sand volleyball, which was approved to become a championship by Division I in October, will be the 90th NCAA championship.

Plans are in place to put together a six-person sand volleyball committee by late February or early March, which will set parameters for selection, bracketing, and seeding for the national collegiate championship.

The NCAA hopes to identify host sites for this new championship by fall 2015. It is anticipated that the championship will occur in early May each year.

“We are thrilled to have sand volleyball as the next NCAA championship,” said Damani Leech, managing director of NCAA championships and alliances. “The sport is growing rapidly across our membership, as well as at the professional and Olympic levels. We look forward to helping steward the continued growth of this sport and provide deserving student-athletes a tremendous championship experience.”

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Inaugural ESPL Winter Oasis Tourney Huge Success

Under mostly sunny skies with highs in the upper 70s and low 80s, the inaugural ESPL Winter Oasis Beach Tournament was contested on Jan 2-3 at Hickory Point Beach in Tavares, FL.  The facility, a sand volleyball enthusiast’s dream, featuring 21 courts of soft, white sand, opened up in July 2014 through a cooperative effort between Florida Region/USAV and Lake County. Southern Sand Volleyball played the role of tournament host for the event. The tournament had a national-level competition vibe to it, featuring 54 teams from several beach clubs and states, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio.

Top finishers in each age group were:

Girls 18U –Morgan Dees/Kali Jones
Girls 16U – Brook Bauer/Ava Richards
Girls 14U – Aly Freeland/Kelsey Mead

Top finishers from Southern Sand included a 3rd place by Kim Hovey/Katie McCullough in 18U, a 5th place by Jordan McKinney/Savannah Siegrist in 16U, and a 7th place by Rhea Ramkumar/Emily Fetter in 14U.

In addition to a 2 day competition between individual teams in 14U, 16U, and 18U, a club competition was introduced where Ohio Valley Beach with the best overall performance by its teams earned a 2015 ESPL Winter Oasis Banner with ‘Jr Club Champions’ written on it.

The nearby Mission Inn served as host hotel, featuring a pool party event in the evening after Day 1’s competition and providing lunch concessions both days at the tournament site. Participants and planners are already looking forward to the event becoming an annual event as most seek a “winter oasis” during the heart of winter.

Thanks to everyone that came out to either participate in the event or help support it!