HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. — LSU’s Kristen Nuss and Claire Coppola and Florida State’s Jon Justice and Adam Wienckowski were the surprise winners Saturday at the USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships.
And now the two pairs will get to play in 2018 FISU World University Championship, July 9-13 in Munich, Germany.
“It’s so cool,” Coppola said. “We’re so excited. To get to play together and represent our country too, we’re just ecstatic.”
Added Nuss, “I’ve never been out of the country before. I’m super excited.”
Both just finished their sophomore years for LSU, which ended the NCAA season ranked sixth in the final AVCA Beach poll. Nuss, a New Orleanian, and Coppola, who is from Scottsdale, Arizona, were seeded 12th and had to battle hard for three days. Saturday, they opened with a 23-21, 21-17 win over top-seeded Torrey Van Winden and Emily Sonny of Cal Poly before beating third-seeded Hailey Luke and Katie Horton of Florida State in the final 21-9, 17-21, 15-8.
The LSU pair lost a match in pool play, forcing them to win five consecutive matches to win the title.
“We started out a little slow in our first game and picked it up in the second. I just think that we didn’t have the intensity that we needed to have for the rest of the tournament,” Nuss said.
Nuss and Coppola are scheduled to play in the AVP Austin next week.
Justice and Wienckowski beat Hawai’i’s Brett Rosenmeier and Colton Cowell in the final 21-15, 26-28, 15-12. And while Justice is already a college student, Wienckowski is just finishing up at Hoffman High School in Jacksonville, Fla. What’s more, there’s no men’s indoor or beach volleyball at FSU, where the women’s team lost in last week’s NCAA Beach national final. Rosenmeier, 6-foot-6, and the 6-1 Cowell both play for Hawai’i’s men’s indoor team.
“We just knew that we could do it with our defense,” the 6-foot Justice said. “We’re both small (Wienckowski is 6-2), but we’re real good defenders and thought we could get a few real points.
“We just took it one point at a time and were really aggressive with our block and our defense, and were ‘Well, if they hit a shot we have to get a dig and put it away.’ That was our mentality, we had to execute, and he was setting me money, and digging balls”
“We’re 6-6 at heart,” Wienckowsk said with a laugh.
Justice gets to train with the women’s beach team.
“I get a lot of good touches, ball control and setting, stuff I need to get good at in order to win, even though it’s on a girls net,” Justice said. “Nick (Lucena) and Phil (Dalhausser) actually train in Tallahassee when they’re in the off season, so I get the opportunity to play with them, and Jason Lochhead (their coach), I get to pick their brains, and it’s awesome.”