As the end of the NCAA beach volleyball regular season draws nears, teams are desperately seeking opportunities to improve their resumes and earn one of the 8 invitations to May’s national championship tournament in Alabama.
Some teams on Friday helped themselves in a big way, while others took hits that will leave them waiting and wondering about their fates after the conference championship tournaments that begin next week.
The team that is helping itself the most is #14 Florida International. Jared Anderson ranked them as the 7th-best team in the East Region coming into the weekend, but after wins over #9 Stetson and #10 Grand Canyon on Friday, they’ve pushed to a 20-10 record. Their last 3 wins have all been against top-10 opponents, including two (Georgia State and Stetson) with whom they’ll be battling for the 3rd automatic qualifier spot in the East Region (with Florida State and LSU looking locked-in at this point).
The Panthers will have a big chance on Saturday to prove at least competitive with #4 Florida St. and #2 Pepperdine to continue to propel their climb.
Stetson, meanwhile, took a big hit, by losing to not only FIU, but #10 Grand Canyon and #2 Pepperdine on Friday. That gives the Hatters 13 losses this season, which, barring a title run in the ASUN probably sinks their NCAA chances. Stetson’s regular season was completed on Friday.
The Grand Canyon match was a last-minute addition to the team’s schedule this week, but one that didn’t pay off in the form of another resume win when they stack up for the tournament.
Georgia State and South Carolina, two of the teams chasing Stetson in our last NCAA projection, each took care of business with 2-0 days. The most impressive was South Carolina’s 4-0 win over Tulane on senior day. Tulane who has been ranked in the top 15 this season.
Among the teams that are locked-in, #4 Florida State picked up their first-ever win in program history against #2 Pepperdine on Friday. The Seminoles have never lost on home sand (24-0 in program history), and kept that streak alive with the upset.
While Florida St. didn’t need that win for an invite to the tournament, it will greatly help their seeding prospects. They had been 0-7 against the top 3 teams in the country coming into the weekend.
For #5 Hawaii, they took a smooth 5-0 win over a stout St. Mary’s team that included Nikki Taylor’s 100th career win on the beach. The two teams will match up again on Saturday.
Even better for the Sandbows was that Mikayla Tucker and Morgan Martin snapped a three-match losing skid to finish off the shut-out 2-1 at the #1 line (21-13, 16-21, 15-12). That meant beating the VolleyMob defending National Pair of the Week Lindsey Knudsen and Payton Rund, who last week became the first team in 2 years to beat USC’s Kelly Claes and Sarah Hughes.
Full April 14th Scoreboard is Below:
|Winning Team||Losing Team||Score||Winning Team Recap||Losing Team Recap|
|#2 Pepperdine||#9 Stetson||5-0||Link||Link|
|#4 Florida State||#2 Pepperdine||3-2||Link||Link|
|#5 Hawaii||St. Mary’s||5-0||Link||Link|
|#7 LSU||Texas A&M – Kingsville||5-0||Link||Link|
|#14 FIU||#9 Stetson||3-2||Link||Link|
|#10 Grand Canyon||#9 Stetson||3-2||Link||Link|
|#10 Georgia State||ULM||3-2||Link||Link|
|#10 Georgia State||Spring Hill College||4-1||Link||Link|
|#12 South Carolina||Tulane||4-1||Link||Link|
|#12 South Carolina||UNCW||5-0||Link||Link|
|#14 FIU||#10 Grand Canyon||4-1||Link||Link|
|Arizona State||Concordia Irvine||5-0||Link||Link|
|ULM||Texas A&M Corpus Christi||5-0||Link||Link|
|New Mexico||Lincoln Memorial||5-0||Link||Link|
|College of Charleston||Tulane||4-1||Link||Link|
|College of Charleston||Jacksonville St.||4-1||Link||Link|
|Texas A&M – Kingsville||Texas A&M Corpus Christi||4-1||Link||Link|
|North Florida||Coastal Carolina||3-2||Link||Link|