HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. (July 21, 2012) – Everyone knows that beach volleyball is popular in California, but the 2012 USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Championships (Beach HPC) shows just how popular it has gotten in other parts of the country.
Regions that have sent beach high performance teams to this year’s championships include Florida, Aloha, Intermountain, Chesapeake, Arizona, Lakeshore, Iowa, and Southern California.
In many cases, players from different parts of the country are not only meeting each other, they are playing together.
Take Blake Nelson from Eugene, Ore., and Tyler Lee from Bloomfield, N.J. Each player is competing in the HP Championships for the first time and also competing as a team for the first time.
“This is a different world,” Lee said of the Beach HPC. “It’s a lot different from indoor. I like it.”
“It took a while (to learn to play together),” Nelson said. “We didn’t know which sets we liked or which side we wanted to hit on, but it’s working a lot better now.”
But the Beach HPC Championships also offers experienced players a chance to stand out. Ivey Schmitt of Coronado, Calif., has been training twice a week during the summer with a talented group of players in the under-17 division through the USA Volleyball High Performance Program.
For the Beach HPC, she was paired with Zana Muno (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) and advanced to the gold bracket.
“We had a head start, but (playing together) still took some getting used to,” Schmitt said. “Now it’s going much better.”
Schmitt appreciated the level of competition at the Beach HPC.
“So far, we’ve played four matches and they have all been competitive,” she said on Friday, adding that her goal for volleyball is to earn a college scholarship. Several sand volleyball coaches from various colleges attended the championships to scout.
Nelson and Lee are hoping for scholarships on the indoor side, since men’s sand volleyball is not an NCAA sanctioned event. But they both hope to pursue beach volleyball after college.
“This has been a lot of fun,” Nelson said. “It’s great getting to watch everyone play.”