With only 50 days remaining until the National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship returns to the Alabama Gulf Coast for the seventh straight season, the UAB Blazers are hosting the March to May …
With only 50 days remaining until the National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship returns to the Alabama Gulf Coast for the seventh straight season, the UAB Blazers are hosting the March to May tournament this weekend in Gulf Shores featuring half of the current top-10 teams in the nation.
The fifth annual spring break tournament will have nine teams competing on the white-sand beaches March 17-19 at Gulf Place Beach where the next beach volleyball national champions will be crowned in May.
Seven of this weekend’s teams are ranked in the top 20 of the newest American Volleyball Coaches Association’s collegiate beach poll released on March 14, five of which take up spots in the top 10.
No. 3 UCLA (13-1), No. 4 Florida State (12-1), No. 5 LMU (8-0), No. 6 LSU (11-2) and No. 10 Georgia State (8-3) will be joined by No. 19 Tulane (10-1) and No. 20 South Carolina (8-5) as well as Mercer (0-11) and host UAB (7-6).
Alabama Gulf Coast becoming familiar to many squads
Many of those teams are no strangers to Gulf Shores where the five top-10 teams were all competitors in last year’s championship tournament hosted once again in Baldwin County. Florida State fell to national champion USC where UCLA and LMU were third and fourth and Georgia State finished in the top six.
The Gulf Place Beach has played host to the beach volleyball national championship each year since the NCAA sanctioned the sport in 2016. Gulf Shores will also host the tournament again next year before it goes out to Huntingdon Beach, California for the 2025 and 2026 championships.
Last season, the championship field expanded to 16 teams and the tournament once again set attendance records. Heading into this season’s championship tournament, more changes have been approved by the Division I Competition Oversight Committee.
One, single-elimination championship bracket
After a single-elimination, opening-round match is held Wednesday, May 3, the 16-team, single-elimination bracket will commence on Friday. The quarter and semifinals are set for Saturday on ESPN2 and the lone match on Sunday at noon will be for the NCAA title and broadcasted on ESPN.
Last year saw single-elimination duels played on the first day of competition before the remaining eight teams battled in the traditional double-elimination format over the final three days of the tournament to find a winner.
Teams selected on national basis instead of geographically
Another change for this season that the oversight committee approved included how the teams will be named to the tournament during April 30’s Selection Show. Instead of being required to select a certain number of teams from each geographic region, squads will be chosen on a national basis.
Of the 17 teams selected, nine will be automatic qualifiers after they win their conference. Two teams each will be chosen from the East and West regions before the remaining four teams will be selected at large from the top non-conference winners.
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