Top Volleyball Players Storm the Beach

Texas practices on the beach

Raymond Ayala

There is only one event in volleyball that takes the best collegiate volleyball teams and has them showcase their beach skills against top competition. That event is the Collegiate Nationals Beach Volleyball Championship, and it arrives in San Diego today.

#1USC (3rd in AVCA poll), #2 Nebraska (5th in AVCA poll), #3 Texas (6th in AVCA poll), #4 Wisconsin (14th in AVCA poll), #5 Clemson (22nd in AVCA poll), and #6 San Diego (25th in AVCA poll) will all be participating in this event and are practicing all day at the game day site Mariner’s Point.

Unlike other Collegiate Nationals championships, the athletes participating in this event are also NCAA athletes. Many of the players have won numerous awards over their collegiate careers on the hard court, including Taylor Carico (USC), Brittany Dolgner (Wisconsin) and Jordan Larson (Nebraska). These athletes were all 2007 AVCA All-Americans and are considered to be some of the best volleyball players in the country. But now after playing a full season on the hard court, they will have to adjust their games to the sand.

The Collegiate Nationals beach play will force these players to change their games, even if it is only for one weekend of the year.

“There is not as much time to prepare for a sand tournament when you are playing indoors most of the year, but me and my teammates went to the beach to adjust to the conditions for this tournament,” said All-American Taylor Carico.

This tournament will consist of pairs from each school, with each team being seeded in pool play for the opening rounds. Each match will consist of three sets, with the first team to reach 21 points in each set winning. The first team to win two of three sets will win the match. At the conclusion of pool play, the winners of the two pools will advance automatically to the semifinals as the number one and number two seeds. The remaining two teams from each pool will compete for the two slots in the semifinals opposite the top seeds.

Unlike court volleyball, beach volleyball relies on a team of two, rather then a team of six. The courts are also smaller, which leaves little room for error. The sandy surface is another new challenge these athletes face.

For San Diego sophomore Amy DeGroot, the level of competition is one of the things she values the most. “This is good experience because we are playing against new people from some of the best volleyball programs in the country.”

Today the players will prepare for this event with practices all day at Mariner’s Point. Each team will look to adjust to the new rigors that beach volleyball brings to the table. They will also hope to expand their overall abilities in volleyball. One thing is for sure, and that is that none of these athletes are going to be satisfied until they achieve their goal of winning the Collegiate Nationals Beach Volleyball Championship.

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