UA invited to first NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship

<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons above -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2016/05/ua-gets-invite-first-ncaa-sand-volleyball-championship/' addthis:title='UA invited to first NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>  The University of Arizona decided in January of 2013 to put together a sand volleyball program and wasted no time in building the new varsity sport into a presence on […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2016/05/ua-gets-invite-first-ncaa-sand-volleyball-championship/' addthis:title='UA invited to first NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>

 

The University of Arizona decided in January of 2013 to put together a sand volleyball program and wasted no time in building the new varsity sport into a presence on the national stage.

And now they’ve become one of just eight teams to be invited to play in the sports’ first-ever NCAA Championship.

This is the first season sand/beach volleyball is being recognized as an NCAA Championship sport, but already 60 schools have jumped on the bandwagon to add the sport to their offerings for women.  When the Wildcats got on board, it became just the fifth Pac-12 school to include the sport.  It was the first new sport added to the Wildcat line-up since 1998 when women’s track & field joined the fold.

Arizona State signed on just six months after Arizona made the announcement it would be adding sand volleyball.

But Arizona got the hang of this new sport rather quickly.  Last season, the SandCats finished with a No. 9 national ranking, and this season they closed out the regular season ranked No. 6.

They rolled into the finals of last week’s Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Championships before losing to USC. But on the way to the title match, they dominated the University of Washington with a 5-0 sweep and then beat UCLA, 3-2.  That victory over the Bruins avenged a loss to UCLA in team bracket play at the start of the tournament.

The SandCats finished the season with a 19-5 record that included three wins over rival ASU, two in the regular season and the third during the Pac-12 tourney.

The NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships begin tomorrow at Gulf Shores, Ala., with the championship match scheduled for Sunday. Three teams were selected from the east region and three from the west region, with two more at-large teams added to round out the field of eight.

Arizona and Hawaii received the at-large invitations, with the Wildcats getting a No. 6 seed.

The inaugural event will be nationally televised, with Arizona starting off with a 10 a.m. (MST) match tomorrow against third-seeded Pepperdine (19-3).

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)