Dolphins to host A-Sun Tournament April 19-20
MACON, Ga. - The Atlantic Sun Conference has achieved another first in collegiate sand volleyball, becoming the first conference to receive an automatic bid to the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships.
The Atlantic Sun Conference has led the way in terms of league sponsorship in collegiate sand volleyball. The A-Sun was the first conference to hold a conference championship last April when Jacksonville University hosted the historic event on campus. JU will once again serve as the host institution for the 2013 Championship this April 19-20.
“We are extremely proud and honored to be the first conference in the country to earn an AQ to the national championships in sand volleyball,” said A-Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart. “The A-Sun continues to play a leading role in the sport’s development and we thank Kathy DeBoer and the AVCA for its support and leadership in growing the sport at a national level. We embrace the opportunity that this AQ provides to our student-athletes and it will certainly add to the excitement of our A-Sun Championship.”
The A-Sun is also playing a league schedule for the NCAA’s newest emerging sport in 2013. JU is one of five A-Sun schools sponsoring sand volleyball, a list that includes: Florida Gulf Coast, Mercer, Stetson and North Florida. North Florida claimed the inaugural A-Sun team championship last season, and UNF and Stetson each had a pair to play in the pair championships of the AVCA’s 2012 national championship.
Gulf Shores, Alabama, will again host the AVCA Championships on May 3-5, 2013. Pepperdine swept both the team and the pairs championships at the 2012 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship last April. CBS Sports Network will also be on-site again to provide television coverage as part of its CBS Sports Spectacular.
The number of colleges sponsoring a varsity program in sand volleyball has increased by 100% since the sport was added to the emerging sports list prior to last season. Fifteen Division I schools competed in the 2012 inaugural season. They will be joined by 15 more varsity programs in 2013; 14 from Division I and one from Division II.
Grand Canyon University is the first Division II school to add a program. Nebraska is the first institution from the Midwest to sponsor sand volleyball, as well as the first program from the Big Ten. Stanford and UCLA from the Pac 12 have joined conference colleague Southern California in sponsoring a team. Southern Cal was the first institution to announce it would add a varsity program in October of 2009.
The growth of sand volleyball as a collegiate sport has been remarkable. “Our partners in Gulf Shores, at CBS Sports, at USA Volleyball, the NCAA and in the individual institutions can all take credit for the warp speed at which programming is expanding,” said AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. “The story line on this sport has many heroes.”
Once the number of varsity teams crosses the 40-school threshold, which is anticipated to occur in the spring of 2014, the NCAA can begin making plans to transition sand volleyball to championship sport status.
The AVCA, with its headquarters in Lexington, Ky., is managed by Associations International. The mission of the AVCA is to develop the sport of volleyball and its coaches. With a membership of over 6,400 and counting, the AVCA provides a professional network for those individuals and companies dedicated to enhancing and promoting the sport. Members include collegiate, high school, club, youth and Olympic coaches, as well as volleyball club directors. The AVCA provides education to volleyball coaches, recognition of elite players and coaches, promotion of volleyball competitions throughout the world, and networking opportunities for volleyball products and services providers. Further information is available at www.avca.org.