South Carolina added sand volleyball as a woman's intercollegiate sport on Feb. 28, with the sport's first season set for the spring of 2014. Here are some frequently asked questions about the Gamecocks' 21st sport.
When is the sand volleyball season?
Sand volleyball is a spring team sport, just like softball and baseball. The Division I playing season starts the first Thursday in March and ends eight weeks later or the end of the school year, whichever comes first.
How many schools sponsor sand volleyball as a sport?
The Gamecocks become the 31st team to sponsor the NCAA emerging sport of sand volleyball and the first in the Southeastern Conference. Other sponsoring NCAA Division I schools for 2014 (thus far) are as follows: Arizona, Cal State Bakersfield, California, College of Charleston, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida International, Florida State, Georgia State, Grand Canyon, Hawaii, Jacksonville, Long Beach State, Louisiana-Monroe, Loyola Marymount, Mercer, Nebraska, North Florida, Pacific, Pepperdine, Sacramento State, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Southern California, St. Mary's, Stanford, Stetson, Tulane, UAB and UCLA.
Will the NCAA sponsor a championship in sand volleyball?
When 40 institutions in DI and DII have sponsored varsity programs for two years, the NCAA will sponsor an NCAA Championships.
Where are the 2014 Sand Volleyball Championships?
The American Volleyball Coaches Association has signed an agreement to host the 2013, 2014 and 2015 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championships on the Alabama Gulf Coast (Gulf Shores and Orange Beach). The area has hosted many Southeastern Conference Women's Soccer Tournaments.
How many competitions must teams play? How many can they play?
You must play at least eight dates with three of the competitions being dual matches. The maximum number of competitions is 16 dates.
How many student-athletes make up a sand volleyball team?
A total of 14 "counters" (aid-receiving student-athletes) can be on the sand volleyball team. The program, for 2014, will have five equivalency scholarships to use and six for 2015 and beyond.
Can an indoor volleyball student-athletes play on the sand volleyball team? Are sand student-athletes allowed on the indoor team?
Indoor volleyball student-athletes can play on the sand team, as long as the number of scholarship-receiving student-athletes stays at or below 14. Student-athletes on sand scholarships cannot play indoor volleyball until their third year on campus. If a sand student-athlete plays indoors before her third year, she becomes a "counter" on the indoor team.
What is the format for play?
Each school will field five doubles teams ranked by ability, similar to how collegiate tennis is formatted. Each doubles team plays again the corresponding team or teams from other schools. In a dual meet, the winning team is the school winning three of five matches. Individual matches are two sets to 21, with a tiebreaker set to 15 if needed. All sets are rally scoring and must be won by two points. Tournament play will still employ flights. Points are awarded based on finish in each of the five brackets and a total team score determines the winner of the event.
How is the sport of sand volleyball different from indoor volleyball?
Beyond the obvious differences in number of players on a side and the surface for competition, sand volleyball is officiated much differently than indoor volleyball. No open-handed tipping is allowed, and setting is called so tightly in sand volleyball that the bump set is more popular than the overhead set. Also, the block touch counts as the first of the three allowable contacts. Another difference is that coaches may only speak to players or give them any kind of input or feedback during timeouts and between sets. Finally, to mitigate the impact of wind and sun, the players switch sides of the indoor every seven points in a 21-point set and every five points in a 15-point set.
Will sand volleyball have a different coaching staff from the indoor volleyball team?
It depends on the institution. DI NCAA regulations specify that sand volleyball may have a maximum of two coaches and indoor volleyball may have a maximum of three coaches. The regulations do not speak to coaches being responsible for more than one sport so an athletics department could assign one or two of the current indoor coaches to responsibilities with the sand team or they could hire new coaches to fill those positions.