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Breaking Down The Field At USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships

By Karen Price | May 09, 2018, 7:44 p.m. (ET)

Jackson Bantle of UCLA serves during the gold-medal match at the 2017 USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships on May 13, 2017 in Hermosa Beach, Calif.


The Bridgestone USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships are set to get underway beginning Thursday in Hermosa Beach, California.

Thirty women’s college pairs and eight men’s pairs are set to compete in the main draw tournament with pool play and a single elimination bracket May 10-12. The final will be televised on NBCSN from 4-6 p.m. EDT on May 12.

The event, which is part of the Team USA Summer Champions Series presented by Xfinity, was held for the first time last year. The winners will qualify to represent the U.S. at the 2018 FISU Beach Volleyball World University Championship July 9-13 in Germany.

The Team USA Summer Champions Series continues with national championships in diving (May 13-20 in Dallas), track and field (June 21-24 in Des Moines, Iowa), and swimming (June 25-29 in Irvine, California).

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Included in the women’s field are five of the eight the teams that competed at last weekend’s 2018 National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship — champions UCLA, along with Florida International and Southern California declined — and the other teams were selected by committee. Because beach volleyball isn’t a sanctioned men’s NCAA sport, all the teams in the men’s field were chosen by committee. 

At last year’s Collegiate Beach Championships, four of the six teams that medaled were from California schools. Lucas Yoder and Michael Saeta won for the men while Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes took the women’s title. Claes and Hughes went on to have success on both the AVP and FIVB tours.

Here’s a look at some of the teams to watch for this year:

Women’s Tournament

Corinne Quiggle and Deahna Kraft (Pepperdine)
Quiggle won the bronze medal at last year’s Collegiate Beach Championships with a different partner. Quiggle and Kraft recently competed in the NCAA championships together. They were the West Coast Conference pair of the month in March after going 15-1 overall and 14-1 against nationally ranked opponents.

Amelia Smith and Sunny Villapando (Stanford)
Villapando and Smith have enjoyed outstanding freshman seasons at Stanford, with Villapando partnering with Courtney Bowen and Smith with Morgan Hentz as the Cardinal’s top two teams.

Torrey Van Winden and Emily Sonny (Cal Poly)
Van Winden was the silver medalist at the USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Open last July, the championship event for high performance athletes in the Under-21/Under-23 age groups. She also represented Team USA at the 2017 FIVB U21 Beach World Championships. Sonny competed in the Collegiate Beach Championships as a freshman last year.

Mima Mirkovic and Alexia Inman (California)
Last year, Mirkovic won gold at the USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Open and bronze at the 2017 FIVB U21 Beach World Championships. As freshmen, the two partnered the majority of the season as Cal’s top pair this year.

Other schools represented in the tournament are Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, Grand Canyon, Houston Baptist, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Louisiana State, St. Mary’s College of California, South Carolina, Texas Christian, Tulane, Alabama-Birmingham, North Carolina-Wilmington, Hawaii, and Washington.

Men’s Tournament

Hagen Smith and Lucas Yoder (UCLA)
Yoder won last year’s event and Smith came in second, and this year they’re teaming up. Both have experience with USA Volleyball national teams and have represented the U.S. internationally.

Brett Rosenmeier and Colton Cowell (Hawaii)
The duo finished fourth at last year’s tournament. Rosenmeier has competed internationally indoors, including an appearance with Team USA at the FIVB U21 World Championship in the Czech Republic. Cowell, of Kula, Hawaii, also plays indoor as well as beach.

Jon Justice and Adam Wienckowski (Florida State)
Wienckowski represented Team USA at the 2017 FIVB U21 Beach World Championships in China. Justice recently won the National Collegiate Sand Volleyball Association mid-Atlantic regional championships.

Other schools represented in the tournament are Concordia, Penn State, Pepperdine, Quincy and UC Irvine.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.