UH sand volleyball makes debut

HONOLULU – The newest NCAA sport makes its way to world-famous Waikiki Beach when the University of Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine host an exhibition sand volleyball tournament at the Queen’s Beach Sandbox on Saturday. The all-day event begins at 8 a.m., and admission is free.

Joining the Rainbow Wahine in the tournament are Hawai’i Pacific and Nittaidai of Japan.

UH also hosts Nittaidai in an indoor exhibition match on Wednesday at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Saturday’s tournament will include two formats. The morning action will be “Hawai’i vs. Japan” as doubles teams from both UH and HPU take on Nittaidai. The afternoon session, beginning at approximately 12:30 p.m., will be a single-elimination bracket involving 12 doubles teams from UH and HPU.

 Action will take place on four different courts at the Sandbox and fans are encouraged to bring their own beach chairs and towels.

UH is one of 16 schools nationwide sponsoring sand volleyball in this inaugural season.

Collegiate sand volleyball is classified as an emerging sport by the NCAA and will receive championship status once there are 40 sponsoring institutions for two straight years.

UH’s inaugural team includes 12 players from the team’s indoor squad. Among them is freshman Jane Croson  an accomplished sand player who, along with partner Summer Ross, captured the 2010 FIVB Youth (U-19) World Championships—the first U.S. team ever to accomplish the feat.

Three “sand-only” players grace the roster. Elizabeth Stoltzman (formerly Elizabeth Ka’aihue) returns for one season of sand volleyball eligibility after an outstanding indoor career at UH. Joining her are Long Beach State transferAshley Lee and UC Irvine transfer Larissa Nordyke, a Punahou graduate and former high school teammate of Stoltzman.

Saturday’s tournament will be one of just two home events this year for the Rainbow Wahine, who will also face HPU in a dual match on April 7. That match will also be at Queen’s Beach, before the program moves to an on-campus venue next season. The team’s six remaining dates this year will be played throughout California and the Southeast.

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