Ten years ago, you would have been hard pressed to find a juniors beach volleyball tournament.
Now that NCAA women’s beach volleyball is among the fastest-growing NCAA sports, with programs offering up to five scholarships per team, you can’t escape them. My home venue, Ocean Beach in San Diego, is overwhelmed by juniors every other weekend, as are many other beaches.
With that in mind, we thought that we would review the crème de la crème, the top junior beach volleyball tournaments this summer. In chronological order:
Queen of the Beach Invitational, Hermosa Beach, June 24-25, by invitation only:
In the Queen of the Beach format, players compete as individuals, not as pairs. Players compete round-robin style with and against players in their pool, with the best sets/points records advancing. The tournament is limited to 56 players, 41 of which are committed to Division I schools according to tournament director Eric Fonoimoana, the 2000 Olympic gold-medalist.
“In this format every point matters,” Fonoimoana said. “The difference could be as simple as a missed serve. You figure out real quickly who is positive, who plays well, and who plays well with others. I think that’s a huge trait that these girls need to learn. The format forces you to communicate. I believe that a 2024 Olympian will be playing in this event.”
BVCA National Championship, Hermosa Beach, July 10-13, registration by club:
The Beach Volleyball Clubs of America played host to 326 teams and 60 beach clubs last year. This year they are expecting between 450 and 500 teams.
“It’s the largest club versus club tournament in the nation,” said BVCA head Jeff Smith, also a 692 beach club coach. “Last year we had 60 beach clubs from across the nation sending their top teams. We have music, an MC, the Rox sponsor row, we try and make it an AVP-style fun environment. The format is really intense. Pairs play in pool play the first day, but on the second day, it’s win or go home. College coaches like to see how the kids can handle pressure, and they get to see that first hand. Last year we had 25 college coaches attend.”
AAU Nationals, Long Beach, July 12-16, open registration:
This year the AAU Nationals, one of the largest tournaments of the season, will be held in association with the World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif. Last year the AAU Nationals featured 340 teams from 30 states.
“We’re excited to be along-side the World Series of Beach Volleyball,” AAU beach national director Denny Lennon said. “It will be great for our youngest athletes to see the best in the world.”
AAU West Coast Junior Olympics, Santa Monica, July 18-21, bid only:
In 2016, the West Coast Junior Olympics attracted 320 teams from 25 states, according to Lennon.
“We’re really happy to be in Santa Monica,” he said. “One of the cool things about that site is that it’s really close to where the proposed Olympic beach volleyball site would be. You can’t pick a better site for a Junior Olympic tournament. We’re also excited to announce that we’ll be streaming matches on beachballer.tv for the spectators that can’t make it to the event.”
AVPFirst National Championships, Hermosa Beach, July 20-23, bid only:
The AVPFirst hit the beaches in a big way this year, and the AVPFirst National Championships is the culmination of their 71-event tour for boys and girls from 12U to 18U.
“The 2017 AVPFirst National Championships are shaping up to be our best event to date,” said Tony Giarla, the executive director of AVPFirst. “In year three, we have seen exponential program growth across the country and look forward to having top boys and girls teams from over 70 local qualifying events battle it out in Hermosa.
“This four-day match play event will take place along side the AVP Hermosa Beach Open, with championship matches live streamed throughout the weekend on stadium court in front of a packed house. Additionally, a large number of top college coaches from around the country have confirmed their attendance and will be actively recruiting the our athletes.”
USA Volleyball Junior Beach Tour Championships, Siesta Keys, Fla., July 20-25, for bid-winners and non-bid winners:
The top three teams in each age group from the 83 events hosted by the USA Volleyball Beach Tour are invited to compete in the season-ending championships. Teams that have not qualified through the tour system can compete in the club division.
“The Junior Beach Tour is in 32 of the 40 USA regions, or 26 states” said USAV’s Mark Paaluhi, Manager of the Junior Beach Tour. “Last year we hosted over 425 teams, I believe that’s the largest tournament in the nation in terms of participation.”
NVL Global Challenge, Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St. Lucie, Fla., July 19-20 and July 24-25, bid only:
The NVL Global Challenge is held July 19-20 for 12U and 14U, July 24-25 for 16U and 18U. In between those two dates, college coaches run college-ready beach volleyball camps from July 21-23. On the 24th, the NVL hosts a college seminar, with a one hour Q&A from each coach. Team bids are awarded from the 86 NVL Rize qualifiers held in 13 different states. Director Tyler Counts expects 20 college coaches this year.
“It gets pretty exciting,” says NVL Rize director Tyler Counts. “We have teams from all over, Canada, California, Puerto Rico, and we have some teams coming from Guatemala this year. It really is a global event, not just USA teams. All of the coaches receive a booklet with profiles of every single player, so that information, GPA, top five schools of interest, contact information, is readily available.”
Rox VB Series National Championships, Lakepoint Sand Complex, Cartersville, Ga., July 27-29, for bid and non-bidwinners.
The Rox VB Series National Championships is the finale of the 67 qualifier Rox VB Series. The Open division features bid-winners from the Rox VB Series qualifiers, but non-bidwinners may play in the Club division. This year they expect 150 teams from around 30 states and Canada.
“The event is extremely family oriented,” said Troy Olson, vice-president of Rox Volleyball. “The event is more than just an elite beach volleyball event, but we’re family friendly as well. We host a luau, and we play all of the games you played at picnics when you were a kid: three legged race, wheelbarrow race, potato sack races, etc. We try and keep both parents and students engaged.”
Did we miss an event? If so, please discuss in the comments.