Hermosa to Host 2nd Beach College Challenge

By BJ Evans | April 09, 2014, 7:18 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 9, 2014) – Eight collegiate sand volleyball teams will compete in Hermosa Beach on April 12-13 at the second 2014 USA Volleyball Beach Collegiate Challenge.

USAV Beach Collegiate Challenge
  Pepperdine, left, competes against Hawaii at the first 
  2014 USA Volleyball Beach Collegiate Challenge in March.

Among the teams competing will be the University of Southern California, ranked No. 1 in the country by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). The Trojans will go up against teams from No. 2 Pepperdine, No. 3 Hawaii and No. 6 UCLA.

Rounding out the competition will be CSU Bakersfield, Loyola Marymount, Santa Clara and the University of Arizona.

The competition will begin Saturday with round-robin dual matches between the schools starting at 10 a.m. On Sunday, individual pairs will compete starting at 9 a.m. with the Bronze Draw, 10 a.m. for the Silver Draw and 11 a.m. for the Gold Draw. The pair finals are scheduled to start at 3:15 p.m.

This is the second USAV Collegiate Beach Challenge. Pepperdine won the first tournament, which was held March 14-16 in Chula Vista, Calif.

As the college sand volleyball season nears its peak at the AVCA Collegiate Sand Championships on May 3-5 in Gulf Shores, Ala., teams and pairs are working hard to be recognized by the selection committee.

"I feel like we are in a pretty close race right now at the top,” Pepperdine Head Coach Nina Matthies said in a school release after the Waves defeated No. 5 Long Beach State on April 3. “There are several really good teams in the West and they're (the AVCA selection committee) only going take three (to the AVCA National Championship). The pressure is on right now and this wasn’t a match we could afford to lose.”

USC, coached by Anna Collier, goes into the tournament at 14-1 overall and on a program-best 13-match winning streak. The Trojans are led by their top pair of seniors Kirby Burnham (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Sara Hughes (Costa Mesa, Calif.). They have a record of 21-3 and are on a 13-match winning streak.

Pepperdine boasts a record of 10-1. The team of red shirt sophomore Lara Dykstra (Redondo Beach, Calif.) and sophomore Becca Strehlow (Long Beach, Calif.) has played at No. 1 for the majority of Pepperdine’s tournaments this season and has a record of 7-1 at that position.

Hawaii, coached by Scott Wong, has a record of 13-2. It is led by its No. 1 team of senior Karissa Cook (Santa Cruz) and junior Brittany Tiegs (Stuart, Fla.), who are 25-2 this season.

For UCLA, which is coached by Stein Metzger, the Beach Collegiate Challenge will be its final competition before the AVCA Championships. The Bruins go into the tournament at 6-6. They are led by the No. 1 team of sophomore Jessyka Ngauamo (Australia) and sophomore Kamila Tan (San Diego), which also has a record of 6-6.  

Bakersfield (5-6) is coached by Olivia Simko. The Roadrunners are led by their No. 1 team of junior Molly O’Hagan (Tonganoxie, Kan.) and senior Debora Araujo (Belo Horizonte, Brazil).

Loyola Marymount’s sand team (5-7) is coached by Tom Black, who also serves as the assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Its No. 1 team is junior Litara Keil (Long Beach, Calif.) and senior Betsi Metter (Phoenix).

Santa Clara (5-4), coached by Jon Wallace, is led by its No. 1 team of freshman Nikki Hess (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and junior Taylor Milton (San Diego).

Arizona (6-5) is coached by Steve Walker and most recently has used twin freshmen McKenna and Madison Witt from Glendale, Ariz., as its No. 1 team.

Those interested in volunteering for Hermosa Beach can register here.

Sand volleyball became and NCAA emerging sport for women in 2012. This year, more than 40 NCAA four-year colleges and university are sponsoring varsity sand volleyball programs, which means that the NCAA will begin making plans to transition sand volleyball to championship sport status.