Sand Volleyball – 90th Championship

by Greg Johnson
(Originally posted here.)

Division II and Division III approved sand volleyball as a championship Saturday at the 2015 NCAA Convention, allowing it to advance from the emerging sports for women list to become a full-fledged NCAA championship in spring 2016.

Sand volleyball, which was approved to become a championship by Division I in October, will be the 90th NCAA championship.

Plans are in place to put together a six-person sand volleyball committee by late February or early March, which will set parameters for selection, bracketing and seeding for the national collegiate championship.

The NCAA hopes to identify host sites for this new championship by fall 2015. It is anticipated that the championship will occur in early May each year.

“We are thrilled to have sand volleyball as the next NCAA championship,” said Damani Leech, managing director of NCAA championships and alliances. “The sport is growing rapidly across our membership, as well as at the professional and Olympic levels. We look forward to helping steward the continued growth of this sport and provide deserving student-athletes a tremendous championship experience.”

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

Teams will consist of five pairs of players. The first team to win three of the five matches is the winner, which is similar to how team champions are decided in men’s and women’s tennis. However, unlike tennis, in which national individual champions are crowned in singles and doubles, the NCAA does not plan to name individual or pair champions in sand volleyball.

In 2009, Division I and Division II members named sand volleyball an emerging sport for women , supported by the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics. The American Volleyball Coaches Association has conducted a collegiate sand volleyball tournament since 2012 and will continue to do so until the NCAA championship begins in 2016.

Kathy DeBoer, executive director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association, expects growth in the sport to escalate now that it is an NCAA Championship.

“People are telling us that they are considering adding sand volleyball,” DeBoer said. “We’ve talked to people in the last week from Alaska, Wyoming and Nebraska. Once the NCAA adds a sport as a championship, it legitimizes the sport. Now people will look at it as something that is here to stay.”

The timing of sand volleyball being added as an NCAA championship next spring is also a positive.

“This vote comes at the perfect time for us to celebrate the NCAA’s first sand championship event in 2016 as we prepare to send Team USA to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro,” said Lori Okimura, chair of the USA Volleyball Board of Directors.

Donald Sun, the Association for Volleyball Professionals managing partner added: “The popularity of sand volleyball continues to grow all across the country, and this vote is a testament to the recognition the sport has garnered, and truly deserves. … We hope that our continued support and presence provides an aspirational platform and outlet for the future growth of NCAA sand volleyball competition and the development of tomorrow’s pros and Olympians.”

The NCAA emerging sports for women program was developed in the mid-1990s when the NCAA Gender Equity Task Force recommended identifying sports that have the potential to grow participation opportunities for women and are of interest to NCAA schools and their communities. The ultimate goal is for the identified sports to become NCAA championship sports.

Sand volleyball is the fastest-growing NCAA sport with 50 schools sponsoring it as of January 2015. NCAA rules require 40 sponsoring institutions to request an NCAA championship. Data shows that on average, 60 percent of participants at a sponsoring school participate only in sand volleyball, not in both sand and indoor volleyball.

Schools are allowed to use emerging sports to help meet minimum sports-sponsorship requirements. Division I and Division II schools can use emerging sports to meet minimum financial-aid requirements as well. Women’s ice hockey, women’s bowling, women’s water polo and women’s rowing are examples of sports that successfully achieved championship status after starting out as emerging sports.

2014 Junior Beach Rules

(Current USAV Rules)

SERVING
Make sure players take turns serving.  Inform players if wrong person serves.  If wrong person serves, stop & replay with correct server (if point is scored, point will stand, make sure the correct person serves next).  Server is permitted one toss per service attempt.  Server must be in (or jump from within) the 8m width of the court.  The server may not step on or under the baseline prior to contact of serve.  Movement of the line by pressed sand is not a fault.

SCREENING
A player of the serving team must not prevent an opponent, through individual screening, from seeing the server and the flight path of the ball.  Receiving team should raise a hand to indicate that a screen exists.  Serving team must alter positions if requested to avoid screen.

BALL IN & OUT
The ball is IN when it physically touches the line, or the court within the lines.  Note: That in beach volleyball the lines move, and are effected by the condition of the sand. Care should be taken to straighten the lines every play.  The ball is OUT when it lands out of bounds, touches objects outside the free zone, hits the antennae or net support structure, completely crosses the lower space under the net or passes entirely beyond the plane of the net partly or totally outside the antennae during the serve or after a team’s third hit. (Pursuit is legal in beach volleyball!)

PLAYING THE BALL
A team gets 3 hits.  A BLOCK COUNTS AS A HIT.  Simultaneous contact by teammates is counted as TWO team hits.  The ball must be hit or rebound from the hit, it may not be caught or thrown.  TIPS ARE ILLEGAL.  Simultaneous contact by opponents (joust) is legal, even if momentarily held.   Both teams retain the right to three hits after a joust.  Players may not take support from a person or object in order to play the ball.  When competition is scheduled or is occurring on adjacent courts, it is a fault for a player to enter the adjacent court(s) to play a ball or after playing a ball.  The free zone, including the service zone on an adjacent court is a playing area.

DIGS
During the team’s first contact it is legal for the ball to strike two or more parts of a defenders’ body during a single action to play the ball. In Beach Volleyball, however, there are exceptions that come into play: (1) Double contact with overhand finger action is NOT allowed unless; (2) the double-contact was in defense of a hard –driven attack.  SERVED balls are (by rule) declared NOT AN ATTACK-HIT.   It is legal to receive serve open-handed, but strict hand setting judgment applies.

JUDGING DEFENSIVE PLAYS
If a player DELIBERATELY uses open-hand finger-action to contact ANY ball, that contact must be judged as a set. (The hard driven ball is considered to move too fast for a deliberate decision to employ setting action… that’s why we don’t call the defender’s double if we declare a ball hard-driven).  In judging defensive actions involving finger action, the referee must evaluate: 1) Speed: Was the ball hit very hard?  2) Distance: How far did the ball travel? Thus: How much time was there? and ultimately;  3) Was the defensive play reactive in nature? Or, 4) Did the defender decide to employ overhand setting action?   In the end the referee must come to a decision: In this case, based on the three guiding criteria, this action will (or will not) be JUDGED AS A SET.

HAND SETTING
The hands must act together smoothly, or a double-hit should be called.  Spin is not a fault…but spin is an indicating factor of a possible fault.  Sets that visibly come to rest or are re-directed are held ball faults.  When a beach player uses a hand setting action to attack the opponent’s courts, it MUST be completed so that the trajectory of the ball is perpendicular to the line of their shoulders.

 ATTACK HITS
Any contact that will send the ball to the opponents (except the serve) is an attack.  Attacks must take place within a team’s playing space… not on the opponent’s side.  Serves may not be attacked while still higher than the top of the net from anywhere on the court.

TIPS
Open hand tipping is illegal.  To dink legally, all fingers in contact with the ball must be rigid and together.  Knuckles are exempted.

SETTING OVER
Setting the ball across to the opponent’s court with finger action is only legal if the setter’s body position is established and the set is made directly forward or directly behind that position (square to the attacker’s facing direction).  Setting the ball across to the opponent’s court while off-angle or pivoting and not setting a teammate; should be called for an illegal attack.

BLOCKS
A block is an action (close to the net and above the net) that attempts to intercept a ball coming from the opponent’s court.  The block DOES count as first team contact.  EITHER player of the team may make the 2nd team contact.  Multiple contacts at the block are counted as only one hit.  Serves may not be blocked.

BALL OVER THE NET
Teams may play the ball only ON THEIR OWN SIDE (no reaching beyond the plane to bring back a set above the net.  Blocks on the opponent’s side may occur provided this action does not interfere with opponents play or after the execution of an attack hit.

BALL UNDER THE NET
Balls passing under the net, but still in the plane, may be played back.  Balls completely crossing under the net are out.   Pursuit is legal.  The first or second ball must pass over or outside of an antenna.  The ball must be played back over/outside the same antenna.  Pursuit outdoors allows a player to pursue across the opponents’ court during their attempt.  Referees must be aware of potential interference.

PLAYER NET CONTACT
Contact with the net by a player is not a fault unless it interferes with play.

PLAYER OVER NET
You may only contact the ball within your own playing-space (exception: blocking).  Setters/players may not reach beyond the vertical plane to retrieve the ball.  Attackers must only touch that part of the ball which is on their side of the net.  Follow-through across the plane of the net after the contact is legal.  Blockers may penetrate the plane over the net and block only after an attack hit.

PLAYER UNDER NET
There is no center line (literally) or in the sense of team possession.  Players may cross into the opponent’s area (generally during pursuit or during an attempt to save a ball in or under the net) as long as they do not interfere with the opponents.

INTERFERENCE
If a player interferes with the opponents’ play, he/she must be called for the fault.  Signal interference by pointing with your index finger under the net (and verbalizing “interference”).  Note: Contact between opponents does not always constitute interference, (bump knees, step briefly on toes & etc.) and that interference can also occur without physical contact. (i.e. fallen player under net prevents defender covering short).  Interference is a fault that results in a point, not a replay.  Referees must use broad awareness of many factors in judging interference.  A player interferes with the opponent’s play by (amongst others): touching the top band of the net or the top 80cm (32”) of the antenna during his/her action of playing the ball, or taking support from the net simultaneously with playing the ball, or creating an advantage over the opponent by touching the net, or making actions which hinder an opponent’s legitimate attempt to play the ball.

TIMEOUT
Each team may call one 60 second timeout per set.  A 5 minute medical timeout may be called if an injury occurs.  Technical timeouts can be called during matches only and are conducted when a combined total of 21 point are scored in sets 1 and 2. It is administered just the same as a regular TO.  There is not a TTO in the event of a 3rd set.

IMPROPER DELAYS
The maximum time between routine rallies should be 12 seconds.  Extra time (perhaps an extra 10 seconds) can be allowed after big rallies.  Teams who delay the flow of play are verbally asked to return to play.  If a team continues to delay the flow of play, they are sanctioned with a (yellow) delay warning and subsequent delays are sanctioned by (red) delay penalty points.