Long Beach State women’s beach volleyball team has qualified for the national championships before, even winning a title. Still, this is a first for the playoff-savvy team.
In the second season of NCAA Championship competition, Long Beach State will make their first trip to the NCAA Tournament. The team was selected as one of two at-large teams for the 2017 NCAA Beach Volleyball Tournament that begins Friday at Gulf Shores, Alabama.
The women’s team has made three other trips to the national postseason event under the AVCA National Championship banner, winning the title in 2013 and finishing as runner-up in 2012 and 2015.
“From our standpoint, it’s still a championship,” said Long Beach coach Mike Campbell, recently named Big West Coach of the Year. “But now it’s more prestigious because it’s an NCAA sport.”
Long Beach State, seeded sixth, will join seven other teams for the three-day, double-elimination tournament. Long Beach (25-8) opens against third-seeded Pepperdine (24-3) at 10 a.m. Friday.
Long Beach played the Waves twice this season, losing in close matches both times. The team also has played five of the six teams in the tournament, so Campbell said there “should be no surprises.”
Campbell said he will be relying on his Nos. 1 and 5 teams to get them to the championship match. Nele Barber and Rachel Nieto are 25-9 this season playing in the top spot, while Jenelle Hudson and Megan Kruidhof are 27-4.
The coach said he is switching his other duos, moving Anete Brinke and Hailey Harward to No. 2 and Sasha Karelov and Kobi Pekich to No. 3.
USC (34-1) is the top-seeded team and will play No. 8 South Carolina (23-9) in its first match.
No. 5 seed Hawai’i (25-5) faces No. 4 Florida State (27-7), and second-seeded UCLA (29-4) squares off against LSU (26-6) in the final pairing.
The tournament will be a full double-elimination bracket with the exception for the championship match, which will pit the winners bracket champion against the consolation champion for the national title.
All matches will be broadcast live through a variety of platforms. The opening round will be streamed through NCAA.com, while TruTV will have daily coverage beginning at 12 noon (PDT) both Friday and Saturday. Sunday’s championship match will be shown live at 11 a.m. (PDT) on TBS.