SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State announced today it will add sand volleyball as a women's intercollegiate sport, beginning with the 2013 spring season. In fact, the Hornets will kick off the season at home on Saturday, March 16, at the Sacramento Softball Complex.

The addition of sand volleyball to Sacramento State's list of sports gives the Hornets 21 intercollegiate programs, including 12 on the women's side and nine on the men's side. Sand volleyball is the first sport Sacramento State has added since welcoming women's soccer and women's rowing to the program during the 1994-95 academic year.

The addition of sand volleyball will also help ensure Sacramento State's continuing commitment to Title IX and gender equity by increasing participation opportunities for female student-athletes at the Div. I level.

Sand volleyball was approved as an NCAA Emerging Sport for women in 2009 and began play in the 2011-12 school year. Fifteen schools sponsored varsity teams in the spring of 2012, the first season of competition for Div. I schools. The inaugural AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championships were held last April in Gulf Shores, Ala., and that site will host the championship from 2013 to 2015.

The Hornets will compete in the Northern California Sand Volleyball Consortium, which includes Cal, Stanford, Saint Mary's, Pacific, San Francisco and Santa Clara. Other schools with sand volleyball include CSU Bakersfield and Long Beach State. Additional teams from the region and from California are also considering adding sand volleyball for the 2014 season.

Sand volleyball teams are required to play eight dates with three of the competitions being dual matches. Of the Hornets' eight sand dates during the spring, six will come at home, and the other two will come at Stanford on the same weekend. All home matches will take place at the Sacramento Softball Complex, located at Watt Avenue and Longview Drive. The complex has four lighted sand volleyball courts.

"This is an exciting moment for our volleyball program," Sacramento State Athletics Director Terry Wanless said. "I'm thrilled we've been able to work collectively with schools in the Northern California region to support the addition of sand volleyball. The sport will be a great asset to the University and to our volleyball program."

Sacramento State's indoor volleyball program has reached the NCAA Tournament 10 times in the last 16 years, and has won a pair of national championships (NCAA Div. II in 1981, AIAW Div. III in 1980). Hornet head coach Ruben Volta noted the growing popularity of sand volleyball made the addition of the sport attractive.

"I'm really excited to start a new sport on campus, and I appreciate the University's recognition of sand volleyball and its rapid emergence," Volta said. "The growth of the sport has opened up opportunities for not only our indoor players, but female student-athletes in general, and we're honored to be part of the Northern California Sand Volleyball Consortium's inaugural season."

The NCAA requires 40 participating teams for a sport to move from the Emerging Sports List to full NCAA sponsorship, which includes a championship. With the popularity of sand volleyball already at an all-time high, many believe this will not take much time. Should funds be approved for a championship in the next budget cycle, the NCAA would host its first national championship in the spring of 2016.

For the sand volleyball schedule, click here, or on the link above the story.


When is the sand volleyball season?

Sand volleyball is a spring team sport. 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.

What is the format of play?

Each school will field five doubles teams ranked by ability. Each doubles team plays against the corresponding team or teams from other schools. In a dual meet, the winning team is the school winning three of the 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 include multiple schools playing in consecutive dual matches. Some events will also include a pair's tournament to allow doubles teams to play across flights.

Can court volleyball players play on the sand volleyball team?

Yes, they become two-sport athletes and must abide by the rules governing all two-sport athletes in terms of training hours, i.e. no more than 20 hours per week.

How is the sport of sand volleyball different from court volleyball?

Beyond the differences in number of players on a side and surface for competition, sand volleyball is officiated much differently than court 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 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. Also, to mitigate the impact of wind and sun, the players switch sides of the court every seven points in a 21-point set and every five points in a 15-point set.