LMU Adds Sand Volleyball Program for 2012 Season

2/8/2012

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The LMU athletic department has announced the addition of a women's sand volleyball program, which will begin competition in the spring of 2012. Tom Black, the current coach of the Lions' indoor women's volleyball team, will also coach the new sport this spring. The addition of sand volleyball increases LMU's intercollegiate-sport count to 22.

"LMU is in one of the richest, if not the richest, areas in the country that offers opportunities in sand volleyball," LMU Athletic Director Dr. William Husak said. "Our location, less than a mile from the ocean, is one where literally no more than five to 10 institutions nationally can compete." 

Joining Black on staff will be his indoor assistant coaches, Jon Newman-Gonchar and Meagan Schmitt. In addition to the existing support staff, Black has also named John Mayer as his newest volunteer coach for both sand and indoor volleyball. A 2005 graduate of Pepperdine University, Mayer helped guide Pepperdine to a National Championship in his senior year. Before transferring to Pepperdine, Mayer won a pair of State Championships playing at Pierce College. On the beach, Mayer was named AVP Most Improved Player in 2009 after earning his first career title in San Diego with teammate Jeff Nygaard. Most recently, he has served as Head Coach of the men's volleyball program at Santa Monica College.

Sand volleyball is an emerging sport, and Division I competition became effective in August 2011. According to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), there are nearly 20 programs around the country that sponsor sand volleyball, and more are scheduled to be added in the future. Fellow WCC-member Pepperdine sponsors sand volleyball, in addition to Southern California schools USC and Long Beach State.

"Adding sand volleyball is a major recruiting advantage for us at LMU because it has the potential to lure top recruits who want to play both sand and indoor volleyball to our campus," Husak said. "In addition to recruiting, adding sand volleyball benefits our indoor program in that it allows our team to train throughout the year with minimal financial outlay and workload additions to existing staff. With just two players on a team, the game demands proficiency in all areas, and forces our student-athletes to fine-tune each and every skill, which should lead to well-rounded players on the court and in the sand."

The Lions will field five doubles teams that will compete in best-of-three matches to 21, with the tie-breaker being played to 15. All sets are rally-scoring and must be won by two points. Teams are required to play at least eight dates with three of the competitions being dual matches.

"We are beyond excited to be adding sand volleyball," Black said. "The training benefits of adding the program are immense as our student-athletes are able to play more, and the format of the sand game will allow more contacts for each player and force them to read the play as it develops. Finally, adding sand volleyball will greatly improve the student-athlete experience at LMU, which teamed with elevating our abilities, are two main objectives for our program."

LMU sophomore Betsi Metter is expected to be one of the more promising players in the sand after showing high levels of success on the beach prior to attending LMU. Metter was a member of the USA Beach Youth National Training Team, and took first place at the AAU National Beach Championships in 2009 for the U18 division. She also earned a first-place finish at the USA Volleyball Junior Olympic Beach Championships for the U14 division in 2006.

In other sand volleyball news related to LMU, the U.S. team of former Lions Emily Day and Heather Hughes has been named the USA Volleyball Beach Team of the Year for 2011. Day and Hughes spent the summer of 2011 barnstorming beach volleyball events around the United States and the world.

In total, the team played in 11 domestic tournaments - including a USA Volleyball International Development Qualifier, which it won - and five international. All the efforts of the young team were focused on making up the USAV Beach pipeline to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The highlight of their season came when they claimed a silver medal at the World University Games in China.

Internationally, Day and Hughes finished second at the NORCECA Beach Circuit event in Puerto Vallarta. They also came very close to a bronze medal at the Pan American Games, falling to Puerto Rico's Yarleen Santiago and Yamileska Yantin, 21-16, 16-21, 15-7 in the third-place match.

The 2012 LMU sand volleyball schedule is currently in the works, and should be posted at LMULions.com in the coming weeks. Competition is slated to begin during the weekend of March 2.

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