The Fullerton College sand volleyball club was able to improve on their third-place finish last season and took home second place in the state championship tournament, behind Irvine Valley College.
The championship was decided by a quad tournament with four teams: FC, IVC, Orange Coast College and Grossmont College.
The Hornets beat Grossmont 4-1 rather easily in the first round and were able to build confidence early.
FC’s top pairing, Samantha Palmer and Alanna Hayhurst, won their first match in two sets (21-16, 21-19). Shawnna Chang and Madalene Barrett took out Grossmont’s second pairing in two sets (21-14, 21-19).
The only FC pairing to lose to Grossmont was Kelsey Smith and Briana Cervantes. They lost a close match in three sets (16-21, 25-23, 21-19).
“I think that we played under our abilities a little bit,” Smith said. “But they are a really good team. They straight up beat us and outplayed us, which did not really surprise me based on the indoor season they had.”
Celeste Snider and Alexa Fairfield were the only FC team that needed three sets to pick up a victory. They beat Grossmont’s four seed (21-15, 15-21, 15-11). Kristen Santos and Tiffany Cobian finished things off with a sweep (21-15, 21-18).
The result was completely different against IVC. The Hornets lost 5-0 and only Smith and Cervantes and Snider and Fairfield were able to take their match three sets.
“Our girls went into that tournament and played extremely well,” said Head Coach Eddie Rapp. “IVC is a tough team and they play in shallower sand which is really conducive to their style and letting their athletic girls get off some big shots.”
It appears that IVC and Fullerton will be among the top for quite a while. They were the two schools that really pioneered the sport of sand volleyball at the junior college level. They played the first junior college match back in 2009.
“They do really well over there,” Rapp said. “They have a lot of athleticism and a program that takes the sand game as seriously as the indoor game.”
Since it began, sand volleyball has just been a club sport here on campus but an April meeting decided to recognize sand volleyball as an officially-sanctioned intercollegiate sport.
“I think the biggest thing about having it an official sport will be actual refs,” Smith said. “As of now, we ref our own matches, which can cause some altercations.”
Now, it is just a matter of whether Fullerton College will choose to recognize it or not. With the folding of badminton, they appear to have a good chance.
“As the volleyball coach, I am biased and of course I am going to say that it should be a sport,” Rapp said. “We just need to get together and make sure that we do everything the right way and it looks like we have a solid chance.”
Sand volleyball is still a newer sport and does not have much of a scene in the area. Therefore, recruiting a whole team can be difficult.
Chances are there will be players coming over just to play sand volleyball. However, Rapp plans to continue to recruit from his indoor team.
“The indoor girls have taken really well to sand volleyball,” Rapp said. “First off, it is a great way for them to stay in shape in the offseason and build some muscle. The other big thing is that you don’t have to be big and strong to dominate offensively, you just need to be able to place the ball.”