The Big West today announced the addition of beach volleyball as the conference’s 17th-sponsored sport, which will begin its first year of competition in 2015-16.
Four Big West institutions currently field beach volleyball teams: Cal Poly, CSUN, Long Beach State and Hawai‘i. In addition, CSU Bakersfield and Sacramento State have accepted an invitation to join the Conference as associate members in beach volleyball, giving the league the minimum six teams required for postseason NCAA automatic qualification.
The Big West inaugural beach volleyball season will debut in the spring of 2016. A six-team, double-elimination conference tournament also will take place at a date and site to be determined. Initially, there will be no regular season round-robin conference competition.
“The Big West Conference is eager to begin this new venture in the sport of beach volleyball,” said Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell. “The growing popularity of sand volleyball is evident and we look forward to watching these six institutions compete for NCAA Championships. The Big West also welcomes Bakersfield and Sacramento State to the fold as they help raise the overall profile of this newly formed conference sport.”
Big West institutions already have displayed proven success in sand volleyball, which made its debut in 2012 as an NCAA emerging sport and had its postseason competitions conducted through the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
Long Beach State won the 2013 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball national championship, and finished as a national runner-up in 2012 and 2015. Hawai‘i also has competed in the eight-team national bracket in each of the last two seasons.
“I believe the Big West has taken a positive step in ensuring our place, as a conference, in the national championship picture. This ensures the conference champion an automatic bid in the NCAA Championship,” said Long Beach State head coach Brian Gimmillaro. “Long Beach State has played in three of the four national championship matches. We will do everything we can to continue and enhance this success for our school and conference.”
“The Big West has an incredible volleyball history, and it’s very exciting to be affiliated with one of the first sand volleyball leagues formed nationally,” said Sacramento State Athletics Director Bill Macriss. “We look forward to playing against so many great institutions on the West Coast and competing for the league’s eventual NCAA automatic berth.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT BIG WEST SAND VOLLEYBALL
CSUN Head Coach Jeff Stork:
“I have been very happy and excited about the development of beach volleyball at CSUN, the Big West and the NCAA. The addition of CSU Bakersfield and Sacramento State is a testament to the strength of the Big West Conference and sand volleyball in general.”
CSU Bakersfield Athletics Director Ziggy Siegfried:
“We are thrilled to join the Big West as an affiliate member in beach volleyball. This is an important next step as beach volleyballl will now have a full-fledged NCAA championship beginning in spring of 2016. Our team has a lot to be proud of in our first few years which includes being ranked in the top 20 at the end of this year and building one of the premier facilities in the nation. We are honored to align ourselves with a conference that features multiple ranked opponents including two in the top 5 in the country.”
CSU Bakersfield Head Coach Olivia Simko:
“It is an exciting time for the Roadrunners. The Big West is an incredibly competitive conference and we are honored to be a part of it. Our team trains very hard and I am so happy to see opportunities like these allow them to continue to prove themselves.”
Sacramento State Head Coach Ruben Volta:
“Beach volleyball is a fast growing sport, and we are very excited to play in the Big West Conference with a number of quality teams. It’s a good step for our program, and I’m excited for our players to have the opportunity to compete for a conference title and, eventually, an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship.”