|Kristen Nuss, left, and Claire Coppola celebrate their Beach Collegiate Championship victory.|
HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. (May 12, 2018) – The West Coast may be the birthplace of beach volleyball, but teams from the eastern side of the United State won the trophies on Saturday at the Bridgestone USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships, part of the 2018 Team USA Summer Champions Series presented by Xfinity.
In the women’s final, LSU Tigers Claire Coppola and Kristen Nuss defeated Florida State’s Hailey Luke and Katie Horton, 21-9, 17-21, 15-8. Cal Poly’s Torrey Van Winden and Emily Sonny placed third after beating Florida States’ Vanessa Freire and Tory Paranagua, 21-11, 25-23.
In the men’s championship match, Florida State’s Jon Justice and Adam Wienckowski came back to defeat Hawaii’s Colton Cowell and Brett Rosenmeier, 15-21, 28-26, 15-12.
Pepperdine’s Robert Mullahey and Owen Yoshimoto took third after beating Quincy’s Collin Merk and Anthony Winter, 21-18, 23-21.
The winning teams automatically qualified for the FISU World University Championships on July 9-13 in Munich, Germany. The AVP also gave them offered a wild card entry for the Hermosa Beach Open on July 26-29.
“It’s so cool. We are so excited,” Coppola said of the opportunity to play in Germany. “And to get to play together and represent our country, we’re ecstatic.”
“I’ve never been out of the country before so I’m super excited,” Nuss added.
Although the pair competes for Louisiana State, only Nuss is from Louisiana. Coppola is from Scottsdale, Ariz. But both were thrilled to win for their school in Southern California.
“It’s awesome how the game is growing so much,” Nuss said. “That’s what I’m really excited about.”
The Florida State men’s victory was even more surprising considering Florida State does not even have a men’s indoor team, let alone a men’s beach program.
Wienckowski competed at the 2017 FIVB U21 World Championships as part of USA Volleyball’s Beach High Performance program. Justice said he has practiced with FSU’s women’s beach volleyball team, which finished second at the 2018 NCAA Championships.
The two have also had a chance to train with Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, who are both based in Florida.
“We have an above-average training group,” Justice said. “It’s awesome.”
With Wienckowski at 6-foot-2 and Justice at 6-0, the team had to play tough defense against the 6-6 Rosenmeier and 6-1 Cowell.
“We don’t have the biggest blocks but we try to get what we can,” Justice said. “We’re 6-6 at heart.”