NCAA beach: 3 league titles decided, 4 more ahead as NCAA bids loom large

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College beach volleyball 4/28/2021-Paige Dreeuws
Pagie Dreeuws extends for a dig/Jim Wolf photo

Three NCAA beach volleyball postseason tournaments — the CCSA, ASUN, and Southland — were this past weekend, and four more are on tap this week — the Pac-12, Big West, West Coast, and Ohio Valley — as teams vie for bids to the NCAA’s National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship.

That event is May 7-9 in Gulf Shores, Alabama, where the NCAA has declared that no tickets will be sold nor media allowed to attend. The eight participating teams will get limited ticket allotments. 

The NCAA field will be announced on Sunday at 7 p.m. on NCAA.com, and the bracket will include three teams from the East (almost assuredly Florida State, LSU, and one other), three from the West (again, almost assuredly USC, UCLA, and one other), and two at-large selections.

This week we cover the CCSA, ASUN, and Southland championships, around the nation, the latest AVCA poll, Pairs of the Week, undefeated pairs, and a photo gallery by Mark Rigney and Jim Wolf from the No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 UCLA dual.

College beach volleyball 4/28/2021-FSU beach volleyball-CCSA beach volleyball champions
2021 CCSA Aqua beach volleyball champions Florida State/CCSA photo

League Championships
CCSA — Third-ranked Florida State went undefeated in the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) championship and won the Aqua Division in Huntsville, Alabama. The Seminoles beat UNCW (5-0), South Carolina (4-1), and LSU ( 4-1), and then LSU again (3-2) to win the program’s fifth consecutive CCSA title.  

FSU’s Alaina Chacon and Maddie Anderson received tournament MVP honors. All-tournament awards went to Chacon and Anderson (FSU), Payton Caffrey and Molly McBain (FSU), Sara Putt and Raelyn White (FSU), Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth (LSU), Olivia Ordonez and Kaylee York (LSU), Hailey Brockett and Olivia Blackburn (TCU), and Skylar Allen and Katie Smith (South Carolina). 

Earlier in the week the CCSA announced its postseason awards. LSU’s Nuss and Kloth were the pair of the year, while the Seminoles’ Brooke Niles was the coach of the year. FSU’s Keara Rutz was the top freshman.

The all-conference team is LSU’s Nuss and Kloth, FAU’s Erica Brok and Mackenzie Morris, FIU’s Federica Frasca and Roberta Ribiero, FSU’s Torrey Van Winden and Keara Rutz, and TCU’s Daniela Alvarez and Tania Moreno Mateeva.

The all-Freshman team consists of FSU’s Rutz, FIU’s Paige Kalkhoff, FSU’s Anderson, TCU’s Alvarez and Mateeva.

The final standings in the Aqua bracket: 1. Florida State, 2. LSU, 3. TCU, 4. South Carolina, 5. Tulane, 5. College of Charleston, 7. Missouri State, 7. UNCW.

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CCSA blue champion FAU beach volleyball/ASUN photo

In the Blue bracket, Florida Atlantic won its first championship.

The Owls began with a 3-2 loss to FIU, but came back with wins against UAB (4-1), Southern Miss (5-0), FIU (3-2), and Georgia State (3-1), their 20th victory of the season.

The Blue division CCSA all-tournament team: FAU’s Savannah Pesante and Maylin Bouffard (pair of the tournament), FAU’s Erica Brok and Mackenzie Morris, FAU’s Kenley Adams and Ellie Austin, Georgia State’s Olivia Stasevich and Mattie Johnson, Georgia State’s Angel Ferary and Bella Ferary, FIU’s Ali Denney and Lina Bernier, and Southern Miss’s Kylie Grandy and Abbey Wilson.

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2021 ASUN beach volleyball champions UNF-ASUN photo

ASUN — The second-seeded North Florida Ospreys upset top-seeded and host Stetson 3-2. UNF had previously been swept by Stetson three times this season, but won its first ASUN title since 2016.

The Ospreys played a grueling six-match double-elimination schedule in Deland, Florida, defeating Jacksonville (5-0), then losing to FGCU (4-1). UNF climbed back with wins against Mercer (4-1), Coastal Carolina (3-2), FGCU (3-2) and finally Stetson (3-2). 

The title came down to the top flight of North Florida’s Dana Roskic and Antonia Harrison against Stetson’s Carly Perales and Ana Costa. Harrison landed a spike in the open corner for a 16-21, 21-14, 15-13 comeback win.

The all-tournament team is UNF’s Roskic and Harrison (also top pair), UNF’s Carleigh Semeniuk and Lauren Gallinis, Stetson’s Carly Perales and Ana Costa, FGCU’s Maddison Parmelly and Lexie Hamilton, and Coastal Carolina’s Irena Drobnjak and Sarlota Svobodova.

College beach volleyball 4/28/2021-HBU beach volleyball-Southland beach volleyball
2021 Southland conference beach volleyball champions HBU/Southland photo

SOUTHLAND — In the inaugural SLC championship, second-seeded Houston Baptist was upset in the first round by No. 3 Stephen F. Austin (3-1), but battled back through the losers bracket with wins over No. 5 New Orleans (3-1), No. 4 Central Arkansas (3-2), Stephen F. Austin (3-2), and top-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (3-1) to win the title.

Final results: 1. HBU, 2. TAMUCC, 3. Stephen F. Austin, 4. Central Arkansas, 5. New Orleans, 6. Southeastern Louisiana. HBU’s Alison Stanfill and Lauren Huggins were named top pair after going 5-0 at the No. 4 pairs.

THIS WEEK — There are four championships this weekend, the Pac-12 at UCLA, the Big West at Long Beach State, the West Coast at Dockweiler State Beach in Los Angeles, and Ohio Valley at UT Martin). 

Around the nation
No. 1 USC (23-2) extended its 10-match win streak with a 3-2 decision over crosstown rival UCLA (24-3) to conclude the regular season. 

With Olympic qualifier Tina Graudina in Cancun competing for Latvia, USC scored with No. 2 Hailey Harward and Megan Kraft over Lea Monkhouse and Devon Newberry (21-19, 23-21), No. 4 Joy Dennis and Delaynie Maple over Hannah Phair and Maggie Walters (21-19, 21-18) and Audrey and Nicole Nourse over Rileigh Powers and Jaden Whitmarsh (21-19, 16-21, 15-13). 

No. 2 UCLA (24-3) won at the No. 1 and No. 3 pairs, with Lexy Denaburg and Savvy Simo defeating Julia Scoles and Sammy Slater (21-19, 23-21) and Megan Muret and Abby Van Winkle defeating Paige Dreeuws and Haley Halllgren (21-16, 10-21, 15-11).

No. 5 Loyola (26-6) was tested at Stanford this weekend, edging the Cardinal 3-2. The Lions went on to sweep San Jose State and Grand Canyon and defeat Cal 4-1.

No. 6 Cal Poly (19-8) earned coach Todd Rogers his 100th career victory Saturday with wins over Santa Clara (5-0) and Saint Mary’s (3-2) on senior day.

No. 8 Arizona (21-4) completed its regular season with a 4-1 win over local rivals Arizona State. The Wildcats’ overall record and winning percentage are the program’s second best.

No. 9 Stanford (20-9) notched its 20th dual victory of the season Sunday with sweeps over Grand Canyon and San Jose State. Stanford honored seniors Amelia Smith and Sunny Villapando, as well as 2020 seniors Kat Anderson, Chelsea Red-Horse Mohl and Shannon Richardson.

No. 10 Grand Canyon’s (18-11) results were mixed at the Dartboard Classic in Stanford, with wins over Cal (3-2) and San Jose State (5-0) but GCU was were swept by Loyola Marymount and Stanford. The Lopes’ Paula Hoffmann and Allanis Navas broke the GCU single-season win record with 24.

Long Beach State (16-12) closed out the regular season with wins over CSU Bakersfield (4-1) and CSUN (5-0). Long Beach will host the Big West championships this weekend at Rosie’s Dog Beach.

Coastal Carolina’s (24-8) season likely came to an end with a loss to North Florida Saturday, but the Sandy Chants established a record 24-win season, defeating Mercer (5-0) and North Alabama (4-1).

Georgia State’s freshman pair Angel and Bella Ferary scored their 19th victory of the season, establishing a .864 winning percentage, best in program history.

AVCA Poll
There was only modest movement in this week’s AVCA poll, with only one team moving more than two spots, as Stetson fell from No. 16 to No. 19.

The top seven – USC, UCLA, Florida State, LSU, Loyola Marymount, Cal Poly and TCU – were unchanged. Arizona was up a spot to No. 8, Stanford up two to No. 9.

Grand Canyon dropped two spots to No. 10, while Cal went down one to No. 11.

FAU and FIU swapped spots, with FAU now at No. 12 and FIU at No. 14. Pepperdine and Hawai’i were unchanged at Nos. 13 and 15. No. 16 South Carolina advanced a spot and No. 17 Georgia State advanced two, while Long Beach State was unchanged at No. 18.

North Florida broke into the poll at No. 20. Arizona State, St. Mary’s, Florida Gulf Coast, Tampa, and Tulane received votes, with Arizona State dropping out. 

Pairs of the week
AVCA — 
South Carolina’s No. 1 pair, Katie Smith and Skylar Allen got the honor for the first time after four victories in the CCSA tournament. They completed their season 16-1.

Pac-12 — Stanford’s Xolani Hodel and Sunny Villapando went 4-0 on the weekend, leading Stanford to a 3-1 record. The pair is now 7-2 on the season.

OVC — The Ohio Valley honored two pairs.

Morehead State’s Hannah Keating and Allison Whitten went 7-0 at No. 1 as the Eagles won their first championship. The pair was 10-1 for the season, and  won all seven OVC championship matches in straight sets.

UT Martin’s Haeligh Paulino and Logan Wallick went 6-0 for the week, with five matches at No. 3 and one at No. 4. They finished their regular season 12-0 (10-0 at No. 3, 2-0 at No. 4).

Undefeated pair
LSU’s Nuss and Kloth are the NCAA’s only undefeated pair after GCU’s Navas and Hoffman and FIU’s Kahlkhoff and Hughes sustained losses.

Nuss and Kloth added five wins (TCU twice , FSU twice, and Missouri State) to their 32-0 record. 

GCU’s Navas and Hoffman were undefeated at No. 4, but went 1-2 at the No. 3 position, while FIU’s Paige Kalkhoff and Abbie Hughes, also previously undefeated at the No. 4 pairing, lost matches to FAU and Georgia State.

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