Photo |  Courtesy Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission

The National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship returns to Gulf Shores May 4-6 and will be televised by ESPN networks.

Some of the best female athletes in America will once again descend on the Gulf Shores Public Beach for the National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship. The competition is set for Friday, May 4, through Sunday, May 6.

“We are proud of our 32 miles of sugar-white sandy beaches and of our Southern hospitality,” Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft said. “But we are equally proud of our relationship with the NCAA and excited to host the National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship on our newly revitalized public beach.”

The American Volleyball Coaches Association started hosting its national tournament in Baldwin County in 2012, and two years later the NCAA sanctioned beach volleyball as its 90th championship.

The University of Southern California returned to the West Coast with golden trophies in those initial tournaments. The Trojans beat Florida State in 2016 and Pepperdine in 2017 in the title matches.

Beach volleyball is one of the fastest growing NCAA sports and is currently sponsored by 69 institutions. The championship has an eight-team bracket that will be played in a double-elimination format. Teams consist of five pairs of female student-athletes.

Competition will observe standard beach volleyball rules with the five pairs playing five-set matches. The winning team needs to win three of the five pair matches to win the dual and advance to the next round.

The NCAA announced the bracket and seeding on Sunday. From the East Region are No. 4 Florida State, No. 6 South Carolina and No. 8 Florida International. The West Region includes No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Pepperdine and No. 3 Hawaii. No. 7 LSU and No. 5 Southern California received the at-large bids.

The NCAA and ESPN have reached a multiyear agreement to telecast the beach volleyball championship. Full coverage from all five courts will be aired live throughout ESPN’s family of networks. The championship match will air on the main ESPN network Sunday afternoon. ESPN has also announced it will televise the event in Gulf Shores through 2022.

“We are extremely thrilled to have ESPN telecast the championship for the next five years,” said Kelcey Roegiers, chair of the NCAA Women’s Beach Volleyball Committee and associate athletics director at Georgia State. “The coverage ESPN will provide for the championship allows great exposure for the sport, the hardworking student-athletes and the growth and excitement surrounding the NCAA Women’s Beach Volleyball Championship.”

ESPN will provide live whip-around coverage of every match throughout the tournament. Duals 1-8 will be played Friday and duals 9-12 will take place Saturday. Championship Sunday will showcase duals 13 and 14. Additionally, ESPN3 will provide full coverage of every individual match from all five courts.

Tickets are on sale now for the beach volleyball championship. Weekend tickets prices are $45 for general admission, $75 for Courtside and $200 for NCAA Experience. Visit GulfShores.com for more details on the event and NCAA.com for tickets.

The event is hosted by the city of Gulf Shores, the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission and The University of Alabama at Birmingham. (Although Spring Hill College has a beach volleyball team, the school is in its final year of transition before becoming a full NCAA member.)

“NCAA awarding the broadcast contract to ESPN means even more exposure for Alabama’s beaches to a national audience,” said Beth Gendler, vice president of sales for the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission. “We are continuing to improve this championship from a local sports tourism perspective, and we look forward to welcoming the student-athletes, families, fans, staffs and ESPN to Gulf Shores in May 2018.”

For more information on the NCAA Women’s Beach Volleyball Championship, visit ncaa.com/beachvolleyball.


College honors

• The University of South Alabama football team had a pair of representatives on the 2018 Hampshire Honor Society list released by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Offensive linemen Dominic Esposito and Harrison Louden were recognized, marking the first time in program history that multiple Jaguars have been honored by the organization in the same season. The duo completed their undergraduate degrees from South with better than a 3.30 GPA.

• The Spring Hill College baseball team handed head coach Frank Sims the 900th victory of his 34-year career with a 13-0 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win over Lane College recently at historic Stan Galle Field. Sims, the most successful coach in SHC history, began his career on The Hill with just 10 games remaining in the 1985 season and has since built a 864-856-3 record with the Badgers and a 900-866-3 mark overall.

• University of Mobile junior Mariah Plauth has earned the Southern States Athletic Conference’s Tennis Player of the Year honors for the second straight season. Plauth is ranked ninth in the ITA doubles rankings and 25th in the ITA singles rankings, going 13-1 at No. 1 singles and 12-4 at No. 1 doubles. Teammate Emily Chang was named Newcomer of the Year and was on the all-SSAC roster with Sina Marchione.

• Uwe Titti of the University of Mobile was named SSAC Coach of the Year after the Rams won the regular season tennis championship. Senior Tim Buehler was on the all-league roster for the second year, Boris Klingebiel was Freshman of the Year, Illya Filanchuk was Newcomer of the Year, and joining them on the all-conference team was Mark Simons.

• USA junior Alexandria Stiteler and freshman Yu Fujioka were voted First-Team all-Sun Belt Conference in tennis, and Fujioka was additionally named the league’s freshman of the year in the SBC’s annual postseason awards. Stiteler earned first-team honors for the third time in her career, and Fujioka became the second Jaguar to be named freshman of the year, after Stiteler in 2016.

• USA sophomores Loic Cloes and Clement Marzol were voted First-Team all-Sun Belt Conference in singles and doubles, and Cloes was named the conference’s tennis player to watch. Cloes and Marzol each earned first-team all-SBC honors for the first time in their careers, as Marzol was named freshman of the year last season and Cloes earned second-team recognition.