Friday, April 26, 2013

The Road to Gulf Shores: Pairs to Watch - Part II

by Jackson Silvanik, AVCA Editor of Publications 

Yesterday we took a look at some of the pairs to keep an eye on from the Southeast. Today, we’ll turn our eyes westward and note some pairs to watch from the Golden Coast. 

Saint Mary’s
Saint Mary’s, as a team, earned a No. 9 in the nation ranking earlier this year after defeating nationally ranked Stanford. Their number one pair played a huge role in leading them to a successful sand season. The top SMC pair of Dalas Dodd and Jordan Shaw have qualified for the Pairs Championship and will test their mettle against the stiffest competition in the country. They’ve managed to string together some quality wins, and now they’ll be in the thick of the action as things get started next week. 

The sixth-ranked Bruins will send two pairs teams to the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships. The team of juniors Meg Norton and Kelly Reeves and sophomore ZoĆ« Nightingale and freshman Becca Strehlow will represent UCLA in Gulf Shores, Ala. 

Norton and Reeves are in Pool A, which also consists of Georgia State's Lane Carico and Katie Madewell, Florida International's Jessica Mendoza and Maryna Samoday, UAB's Bethanie Thomas and Kiriana Hirini and Pacific's Hannah Clancy and Katarina Schultz. The cross-regional competition looks to be fierce. 

Nightingale and Strehlow are in Pool B, consisting of Jacksonville's Sammie Strausbaugh and Taylor Nyquist, FIU's Kate Stepanova and Ksenia Sukhareva, Loyola Marymount's Felicia Arriola and Litara Keil and Saint Mary's Dallas Dodd and Jordan Shaw. The Bruins played a very difficult schedule, which means that there isn’t likely to be anything they haven’t seen before at the Championships.

UCLA pairs - Mag Norton/Kelly Reeves and Zoe Nightingale/Becca Strehlow.

 The Tigers' No. 1 sand duo of senior Hannah Clancy and freshman Kat Schulz definitely played their way to the 2013 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships. Throughout the Tigers' inaugural season of sand volleyball, Clancy and Schulz proved to be Pacific's most fearsome pairing as the duo ran through the NorCal Consortium en route to a 6-1 overall record. Paired together in Pacific's third match of the season, the Tigers' top pair immediately came together, winning their first match of the season in run-away fashion at Sacramento State on Mar. 23. The duo went on to win their first five matches together, dropping just two sets during their run. After falling for the first time in a three-set marathon at Stanford, Clancy and Schulz rebounded to take down Dodd and Shaw, the top team from the No. 9 ranked Gaels of Saint Mary's to finish out the regular season.

Loyola Marymount
LMU’s top pair of Felicia Arriola and Litara Keil didn’t start the season playing together as the team’s top pair, but they matched up around one-third of the way through the schedule and played marvelously for the rest of the year. When competing together, the pair mustered a 9-4 record against a variety of competition, playing tough against strong opponents and defeating those ranked beneath them. They, too, will be up against a tough field in Gulf Shores, but never count this scrappy duo out – they’ve been improving ever since being matched up in the lineup. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Road to Gulf Shores: Pairs to Watch

by Jackson Silvanik, AVCA Editor of Publications

The Pairs Championship field features a number of talented and formidable duos. We took a look around the Southeast to give you a better feel for how the tournament will come together. From Jacksonville’s A-Sun Pair of the Year to the scrappy Hirini and Thomas from UAB, the competition is going to be fierce on the sand of Gulf Shores. Stay tuned as we take a look at who else is going to be making the trip next week.

Jacksonville's No. 1 duo of Strausbaugh and Nyquist were selected as the No. 2 pair from the "Best of the Rest”.

The duo went 4-0 in the A-Sun Championship and teamed up for a 25-3 overall record this season and a 7-1 mark in A-Sun play. The A-Sun Pair of the Year was named the A-Sun Pair of the Week on April 3 after they went a perfect 7-0 at the JU Easter Tournament with two wins coming over the No. 1 pair from third-ranked Florida State (March 21 AVCA poll). They closed out the regular season at the Fiesta at Siesta Key with a 7-0 record including a Gold Division Bracket Championship.

Florida International
FIU’s top-two pairs teams were both selected to the 2013 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championship field, as the duo of Kate Stepanova and Ksenia Sukhareva and the tandem of Jessica Mendoza and Maryna Samoday will represent the Panthers in the pairs competition.

FIU’s top pair of Stepanova and Sukhareva will compete as the No. 2 seed in Pool B, while the Panthers’ No. 2 pair of Samoday and Mendoza will compete as the No. 3 seed in Pool A.

Stepanova and Sukhareva are coming off a 3-1 showing at Fiesta on Siesta Key, and the tandem has combined for an overall record of 16-4 this season. The twosome went 9-2 in pairs competition and 7-2 in dual matches, including a 5-2 mark at the No. 1 spot and a 2-0 ledger at No. 2.

Samoday and Mendoza have also compiled an overall mark of 16-4, and the duo is coming off a 2-2 performance at Fiesta on Siesta Key. The two own an 8-3 mark in pairs play, and went 8-1 in dual matches, going 6-1 at the No. 2 position and 2-0 at No. 1.

FIU's Ksenia Sukhareva

Bethanie Thomas and Kiriana Hirini were selected to compete in the Pairs tournament, marking the second consecutive year the Blazers have sent a pair to Gulf Shores, Ala.

“I am extremely excited to have Bethanie and Kiriana in the Championships,” head coach Hal Messersmith said. “Both are sophomores, so it is a great accomplishment for them and our program as we look to the future.”

Thomas and Hirini, who picked up nine wins in 2013, are in a pool with Lane Carico and Katie Madewell (Georgia State), Kelly Reeves and Meg Norton (UCLA), Jessica Mendoza and Maryna Samoday (Florida International) and Hannah Clancy and Katarina Schilz (Pacific).

They faced some stiff competition this season, but the coaching staff feels they’re better off for it.

Georgia State
Georgia State’s dynamic duo of Carico and Madewell proved themselves throughout the year. The duo's 27-5 record was one of the best in the country, which earned them a bid to the AVCA's second national championship.

The Panther's No. 1 duo will compete in Pool A alongside  pairs from UCLA, Florida International, UAB and Pacific. 

Carico, a graduate student in her senior season of eligibility, and Madewell, a junior, have already competed against the pairs from Pepperdine, UNF, FSU, ULM, FIU, UAB and Jacksonville, so they know the level of competition. Nobody is going to take these two by surprise.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Road to Gulf Shores: Get Started in the Sand

by Jackson Silvanik, AVCA Editor of Publications 

Let’s suppose you’ve been watching from afar as sand volleyball has grown at the collegiate level – you might be wondering how you can get started either fostering your own sand program or learning more about what it takes to coach sand. How does it differ from the court game? What kinds of training do you need to have your players focus on? Can you take court principles and apply them to sand players?

The game is growing at an accelerated rate. Not only is collegiate sand volleyball catching on around the country, but high schools in several states have begun sponsoring the sport. Given how fun, enticing and beneficial playing sand volleyball can be, don’t be surprised if it starts to make a strong push into the club volleyball world as well. If we’ve seen one thing proven consistently over the past two seasons of collegiate competition, it’s that players absolutely want to play sand. 

If you’re on the fence about making the trip to Gulf Shores, consider that it may not only be one of the most entertaining sporting events you’ll take in this year, but that it might also be one of the most educational and beneficial trips you could make. USAV will be holding a CAP I course to get you BCAP certified. At the rate this sport is taking off, waiting even a month can put you behind the curve. Check out some of the details below. 

May 1-3
Take a late spring break and join us in Gulf Shores, Ala., for a USAV Beach CAP Level I course!

 -   Free breakfast on Thursday and Friday to first 12 to register for the full course! Who doesn't love free?!
 -  Dinner will be included on Thursday May, 2!
 -  ALL coaches will receive a beach volleyball to take home. 
 -  If you are attending this course (or are a previously certified Beach CAP coach) and volunteer (and are approved) to help with the USAV Beach HP tryouts on Sunday, May can earn a BCAP re-cert credit(s) towards your next re-certification.

For local hotel information please contact Lisa Nickelson at 


-  Ali Lamberson- USA Vollebyall Director of International Beach High Performance 
-  Jon Aharoni- USA Volleyball Beach CAP cadre
-  Patricia Daugherty-USA Volleyball Coordinator of Beach High Performance
-  Dr. Shelly Holden-University of South Alabama professor
-  Diana Cole-USA Volleyball Director of Coaching Education Programs

Hurry-Early bird registration closes on April 26. Late pricing takes effect on April 27!

View the listing site and schedule to get more details on the Beach CAP I course by clicking here!   

For information on the Beach CAP I click here