Sophomore Haleigh Hampton will be one of the 49ers competing in sand volleyball.
Sept. 15, 2011
Long Beach, Calif. - Classified as an emerging sport, sand volleyball is the newest addition to not only Long Beach State's sports lineup, but the NCAA's as well. Being turned into a team sport for the first time, here are some of the details that fans will need to know to be ready for another exciting 49er sport.
The sport will be referred to as sand volleyball, as opposed to beach volleyball, in the NCAA's effort to encourage as many schools as possible to add the sport, instead of limiting it to colleges with easy access to beaches.
Classified as an "emerging sport" starting in 2011 by the NCAA, which means that sand volleyball has ten years to establish itself before a reclassification review becomes necessary. However, the sport could become a "championship sport" prior to the conclusion of that ten-year window if 40 or more schools officially sponsor the sport for two years running. However, the sport is already nearly halfway there with just under 20 schools showing interest in the sport in the very first year.
Competition under NCAA guidelines will operate in a manner similar to college tennis. Each school will have five two-person teams that will compete in one match, which will be played in a best-of-three format, with the first two sets running to 21 points with the third set, if necessary, running to 15 points. Points will be recorded with rally scoring, consistent with FIVB and indoor volleyball standards. Coaching will also follow the established beach volleyball standards, which allows contact with players only during timeouts and between sets.
As the sport progresses, scholarships will be awarded on an equivalency basis, with a limit on the total number of players that can receive aid. However, as of right now, there is no upper limit on the number of players that can be on the roster. Another wrinkle is that while players on women's volleyball aid can participate in sand volleyball, players receiving sand volleyball aid will only be allowed to play sand volleyball, and cannot compete indoor.
The sand volleyball season will begin in mid-March, and teams will have to play a minimum of eight competitions, with a maximum of 16, under NCAA guidelines. Details on a national championship are forthcoming, with most of the schools offering the sport split on the opposite sides of the nation in Southern California and Florida.