Beach volleyball to be new NCAA championship

Beach volleyball will be the NCAA’s newest championship starting in spring 2016. It will become the NCAA’s 90th championship.

“We are pleased to usher in the NCAA’s 90th sport championship and make the name change from sand to beach volleyball,” Marilyn Moniz-Kaho‘ohanohano, UH’s associate athletics director, said in a NCAA release.

“It is important for the growth of the sport to be in synch with the rest of the sports organizations dedicated to this great sport at the international, national and professional levels. More importantly, we look forward to encouraging and empowering junior girls to pursue their passion in this elite sport, setting a high standard for intercollegiate beach volleyball and providing educational opportunities at top universities for women.”

Previously known as sand volleyball, the sport debuted in 2012 as an emerging NCAA sport.
It met the NCAA championship requirement of 40 schools sponsoring the sport. Fifty schools sponsored the sport as of January 2015.

The Rainbow Wahine sand team finished 2015 ranked fifth in the nation and qualified for the AVCA Sand Championships. Hawaii was ranked No. 1 back in March.

The Big West Conference announced last week its sponsoring sand volleyball next season. Teams sponsoring the sport are Hawaii, Long Beach State, CSUN, Cal Poly, Cal State Bakersfield and Sacramento State.

The new championship will have an eight-team bracket that will be played in a double-elimination format.