Sara Hughes digs the ball during the 2012 FIVB Junior Beach World Championships
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Nov. 20, 2012) – Five players from the USA Volleyball beach program have signed letters of intent to play sand volleyball at Southern California (USC), Pepperdine and Florida State.
Sara Hughes and Alexandra “Allie” Wheeler have signed to play for Anna Collier at USC. Delaney Knudsen will play Nina Matthies at Pepperdine. Sierra Sanchez and Julia Thompson have signed to play for Danalee Corso at Florida State.
In 2012, Hughes, who attends Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., finished fourth with Summer Ross at the 2012 FIVB Junior World Championship in Halifax, seventh at the NORCECA Beach tour stop in Chula Vista (with Kirby Burnham), ninth at the FIVB Youth World Championship in Cyprus (with Justine Wong-Orantes) and 25th at the Manhattan Open (with Lilla Frederick). She also competed in the 2012 FIVB Thailand Open (with Kaitlin Sather).
In the summer of 2011, she was ninth at the FIVB Youth World Championship in Croatia (with Wong-Orantes), 17th at the Manhattan Open and 25th at the FIVB Junior World Championships in Halifax (both with Caitlin Racich).
Indoors, Hughes played with Mater Dei and helped her Long Beach Mizuno club team win a gold medal at the 2011 Girls’ Junior National Championships in the 16 Open division.
Wheeler, who attends Archbishop Mitty in San Jose, Calif., has been a member of the USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Under-19 program. She is the first northern Californian to receive a scholarship to play NCAA Division I sand volleyball. Indoors, she helped Archbishop Mitty to a 34-0 record and the 2012 CIF Central Coast championship, earning All-West Catholic Athletic League first team honors. Her Vision Volleyball Club won a silver medal at the Girls’ Junior National Championships.
"We are extremely delighted to welcome Sara and Allie to the Trojan Family," Collier said. "Sara is regarded as the top sand volleyball recruit in the nation. She is very experienced and athletic for her age. She will be the foundation of our program in the coming years. Allie is an up-and-comer who is just beginning to tap into her sand potential. Her successful indoor experience will translate well to the sand game."
Knudsen, who attends Valencia High School in California, has held an AAA rating in the California Beach Volleyball Association rankings since the age of 16. She won the under-16 division of the USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Championships in 2011. Most recently, she finished third in September’s Santa Cruz Open. Indoors, Knudson was voted an All-Foothill League first team member in 2011 and named Foothill League Player of the Year in 2011.
“I’m really excited about my first sand volleyball recruiting class,” Matthies said. “Delaney is a very focused young lady and has set lofty goals for herself. I’m excited to be a part of her future and help her fulfill some of those goals. Her work ethic is amazing and she is going to be an incredible leader for our young kids.”
Sanchez plays with Knudsen at Valencia High School. Both were named to the 2012 USA Volleyball 19-under A1 beach roster and also competed together at the Manhattan Beach Open, although they did not get out of the qualifying bracket. They were instrumental in Valencia winning the inaugural title May 5 in the AAU Southern Pacific Girls' Interscholastic Beach Volleyball final.
Thompson is the only non-Californian of the five. She plays for Barrington High School in Illinois and began playing beach volleyball competitively in 2011. That same year, she won the U16 division of the USA Beach Junior Tour National Championships in Chicago with partner Emily Casaletto. Indoors, Thompson also plays for the Sky High Volleyball Club.
NCAA SAND VOLLEYBALL
The AVCA has announced that the 2013, 2014 and 2015 AVCA Sand Volleyball Championships will be played in Gulf Shores, Ala., with USA Volleyball’s Gulf Shores Region as a partner. The 2012 AVCA Sand Volleyball Championships, which was the inaugural event, was also played in Gulf Shores.
BEACH HALL OF FAME INDUCTIONS
Scott Ayakatubby, Janice Opalinski-Harrer and Adam Johnson were inducted into the Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame on Nov. 16. Earlier inductees Greg Lee (1997) and Mike O’Hara (1992) were also honored at the ceremony in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
The induction ceremony was held at the Hermosa Beach Historical Museum, which has offered the California Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA) its first physical hall of fame location.
VOLLEYWORLD OLYMPIC EDITION
The FIVB has produced an Olympic Beach Volleyball Review issue of its publication Volleyworld. To view the publication, click here.