Eagles Set for Inaugural A–Sun Sand Volleyball Championship
Thursday, April 19, 2012 | by Mike Hill (@mike_hill84)
Photo Credit: Dennis Snyder
Photo Credit: Dennis Snyder

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Riding a four-match winning streak, the FGCU sand volleyball team will head into the inaugural Atlantic Sun Conference Championship beginning Friday on the campus of Jacksonville University at the Dolphin Beach Volleyball Complex.

The Eagles (4-3), Jacksonville (1-4), Mercer (1-6), UNF (5-2) and Stetson (6-7) will compete for the Team Championship and five flighted Pairs Championships. The Team Championship will be held on Friday, April 20, and Saturday, April 21. Each of the five schools will field five doubles teams ranked in order. The schools will compete in dual matches in which the winner is the team capturing three of the five flights. Play will begin at 9 a.m. each day.

The five Pairs Championships will consist of 25 doubles teams seeded into a single elimination tournament on Sunday, April 22. Pairs will be seeded into flights determined by their results during the team championships. Sunday’s matches will also begin at 9 a.m. The championship matches of the four top flights will be broadcast live on ASun.TV beginning at 11 a.m.

This season the Green and Blue have gone 2-1 against A-Sun foe Stetson, and defeated Tulane and Florida Atlantic, while suffering losses in non-conference play to Florida State, one of four teams selected for the first-ever Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship, and USC.

Senior Holly Youngquist (Estero, Fla./Evangelical Christian HS) and sophomore Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS/Marshall) will play as FGCU’s No. 1, while sophomore Karina Mambuca (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast HS) and freshman Olivia Mesner (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River HS) will play at the No. 2 spot. Redshirt junior Brooke Kohler (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter HS/Clemson) and junior Brittany Muse (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto County HS) enter the contest as the Green and Blue’s No. 3 pairing. Rounding out FGCU’s team for the A-Sun Championship will be freshman Jill Hopper (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown HS) and freshman Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Wapahani HS) at No. 4 and freshman Gigi Meyer (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz HS) and junior Lindsey Childs (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./South Plantation HS) in the No. 5 spot.

In January 2010, through the legislative process, the NCAA Division I membership added sand volleyball to its list of emerging sports for women, effective for the 2011-12 school year. The sand volleyball season will be opposite the traditional court volleyball season with spring competition. Team competition will feature ten players teamed in five sets of pairs. According to the most current list compiled by the Sand Committee of the AVCA D1 Head Coaches Committee, the A-Sun’s quintet comprises nearly one-third of the teams committed to sponsoring a team for the 2012 season.

That list also includes Cal State University at Long Beach, Pepperdine, the University of Southern California, the University of Hawaii, Loyola Marymount University, Florida State University, the College of Charleston, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Tulane University, Florida Atlantic University, Webber International (NAIA), Irvine Valley College (CCCAA), Golden West College (CCCAA), Fullerton College (CCCAA) and Riverside City College (CCCAA). Georgia State University and Florida International University have also confirmed their intent to sponsor teams in 2013.

As an emerging sport, the Division I membership allows 10 years for sports sponsorship to grow to a minimum of 40 varsity teams. If the minimum sponsorship target is met, the membership can consider the implementation of an NCAA Championship for sand volleyball.

Friday, April 20, 2012 - Team Championship Day 1
Stetson vs. UNF - 9:00 a.m.
Jacksonville vs. Mercer - 9:00 a.m.
UNF vs. Mercer - 11:00 a.m.
FGCU vs. Stetson - 12:00 p.m.
Jacksonville vs. FGCU - 2:00 p.m.

Saturday, April 21, 2012 - Team Championship Day 2
Jacksonville vs. Stetson - 9:00 a.m.
Mercer vs. FGCU - 9:00 a.m.
Mercer vs. Stetson - 11:00 a.m.
FGCU vs. UNF - 12:00 p.m.
Jacksonville vs. North Florida - 2:00 p.m.

Sunday, April 22, 2012 - Flighted Pairs Championship
Flight 5 Competition - 9:00 a.m.
Flight 4 Competition - 9:00 a.m.
Flight 3 Competition - 9:00 a.m.
Flight 2 Competition - 9:00 a.m.
Flight 1 Competition - 12:00 p.m.