Man, oh man. Where was this when I was an undergrad?
U.C.L.A.'s newest varsity sport will officially kick off next week (HT to TheCheetah) when the Bruins Women's Sand Volleyball team debuts against Florida State on Monday, March 11. That match will be played down the 405 at Long Beach State at noon. The Bruins first home match will be at 9 am on March 21 against Nebraska. U.C.L.A. is ranked #6 in the preseason polls, and will be playing its home matches at Annenberg Community Beach House, located at 415 Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. The Beachhouse is just south of the legendary courts at State Beach, and is located about halfway between California St (the one that angles down over the cliff from Ocean Ave) and Entrada Drive. An aerial shot that shows access to Annenberg is here.
The Bruins have 10 events on their schedule, with several of those events include multiple opponents. The entire season schedule can be found here. The season culminates with the American Volleyball Coaches Assn Collegiate Sand VB Championships on May 3rd-5th at Gulf Shores, Alabama.
For fans of the Women's Indoor team, the Sand team will feature a lot of familiar faces. Fourteen of the sixteen women from the indoor roster, led by senior Biojana Tedorovic, will also play on the sand team. The Bruins Sand VB roster includes:
Biojana Tedorovic, Sr
Mariana Aquino, Jr
Meg Norton, Jr
Kelly Reeves, Jr
Karsta Lowe, Soph
Megan Moenoa, Soph
Zoë Nightingale, Soph
Hannah Boland, Fr
Karly Drolson, Fr
Phelix Fincher, Fr
Rachel Inouye, Fr
Maddy Klineman, Fr
Haley Lawless, Fr
Becca Strehlow, Fr
The Bruins squad will be led by Head Coach Stein Metzger. Metzger was a star setter for Al Scates' U.C.L.A. teams from 1993 to 1996 and won 3 National Championships. I saw Stein play several times on the pro beach tour where he had an excellent career. He had 16 wins on the AVP tour and was the Tour's top player in 2005 and 2006. He also finished 5th in the 2004 Summer Olympics and won a Silver Medal at the 2003 Beach Volleyball World Championships.
With U.C.L.A. adding a sand volleyball team for this year, there are now 31 schools competing in the sport, including 15 on the west coast and 13 in the southeast. Per the Bruins' official site, once 40 schools have sponsored the sport for 2 years, the NCAA will sponsor a championship, and the Bruins can start collecting more trophies.
In sand volleyball competition, the Bruins will enter 5 two-woman teams. Each team will play a best-of-three games match. The first two games are rally scoring to 21, and the third game, if necessary, is rally scoring to 15. Teams switch sides after 7 points in the first 2 games and 5 points in the third. The first school to win three matches wins the day. The rules of college sand volleyball essentially mirror the professional and olympic sand rules.
As a guy who spent probably a bit too much time on the sand court at the Southern Suites and even more time down at the courts at State Beach watching Sinjin Smith, Randy Stokos, Kent Steffes, and many other great Bruins who had graduated to the beach game (I always took my books with me there, since I couldn't hang long on the adjacent courts), I am pretty excited about the Bruins' newest sport. I also hope the addition of another women's sport gives U.C.L.A. the opportunity to bring back men's swimming and/or gymnastics, but that's an issue for the Morgan Center.
I could imagine myself spending a lot of time sitting court side in the sand and rooting for our women's team, so this is yet another reason for me to miss the beach while in exile. I hope plenty of Bruins will get out to support our team (and take sunscreen!) as the Blue and Gold takes over the beaches. Good luck to Coach Metzger and our Bruins Sand Volleyball Team.