PORTLAND, Ore. -- The University of Portland is adding beach volleyball as a varsity sport with competition beginning in the spring of 2016, Athletic Director Scott Leykam announced on Tuesday. Women's indoor volleyball head coach Brent Crouch and his staff will also oversee the beach volleyball program.
"Adding beach volleyball to our varsity sports lineup was a decision that we knew was going to happen sooner rather than later," Leykam said. "As an emerging NCAA and West Coast Conference sport, the timing to officially add the program this season made sense. Coach Crouch has a very strong background in beach volleyball, both as a player and coach, and we are excited to watch the program grow."
Sometimes also referred to as sand volleyball, beach volleyball has been an emerging sport in the NCAA for the past few years. A total of 50 schools had beach volleyball teams in 2015, which is ten more than the required 40 for a NCAA-sponsored championship. With beach volleyball being the fastest-growing NCAA sport, the committee established it as the 90th championship event with the inaugural championship to occur in the 2016 spring season.
Six teams in the West Coast Conference—Pepperdine, LMU, Pacific, Saint Mary's, San Francisco, and Santa Clara—already support beach volleyball teams. The 2015-16 academic year will mark the first year that the WCC will support beach volleyball as a championship as the total number of sponsored championships by the WCC is brought to 15.
Crouch has top-level playing experience in the sand and also served as the head beach volleyball coach at Saint Mary's before making the move up to Portland.
"Beach volleyball has grown exponentially in recent years, and as a West Coast university with access to great beaches and players growing up with the sport, it makes perfect sense to add it here in Portland," said Crouch." "The West Coast Conference thinks the same, as nearly all the members will be competing by the spring of 2016. We expect the WCC to be a national leader in the sport."
Indoor volleyball players will make up the members of the beach volleyball team as there is not currently a plan to have beach volleyball-specific recruits. Current beach volleyball courts on campus will be used for team practice, while a competition venue has not yet been established.
"The hope in the near future is to establish a more permanent home beach volleyball venue on campus that can accommodate greater practice and competition needs," Leykam noted.
"Our current players are eager to get started on the sand with many already competing in summer tournaments," continued Crouch. "It will be a great complement to our indoor program."
Beach Volleyball Quick Facts:
· Two players on each side of the court
· A match is best two of three sets, with the first two sets played to 21 points and the third, if needed, played to 15 points. All sets must be won by two points with no cap it is rally scoring.
· Similar to college tennis doubles, a beach volleyball competition will consist of five doubles teams competing in a flighted dual or tourney competition. The dual meet winner will be the team winning three of the five matches. If a tournament competition, individual winners can be named in each flight and the team champion is the one scoring the most points in all five brackets combined.
· On average a single match will last 35-50 minutes. Most student-athletes will be able to play two to three matches in a day for consecutive days.
· Teams are required to take part in a minimum of eight matches on a maximum of 16 playing dates. The majority of teams play 4-5 matches per weekend over a span of four weekend tournaments.