By Cindy Luis
Above line for the team bracket. Pairs tournament announced and seeded after the final saturday
The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Championship Selection Committee announced the field for the third annual Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship with the University of Hawai'i gaining its first-ever team invite to the event. The Rainbow Wahine earned the sole at-large bid in the six-team field which also includes Pepperdine (West), USC (West), Florida State (Southeast), Stetson (Atlantic Sun) and UH's first-round opponent Florida International (Southeast).
UH earned a No. 4 seed and will face No. 5 FIU at 9:00 a.m. EST on the opening day of tournament on Friday, May 2. The winner of the match will face top-seeded USC later that day. The tournament format is double-elimination with a sudden death final four.
The event, which runs through May 4, will again be held in Gulf Shores, Ala.—home of the event the last three years. It will also feature a pairs championship. The pairs field includes the top duos from the schools in the team competition as well as ten doubles teams identified as the "Best of the Rest" from schools not in the team competition. The top two tandems of Karissa Cook-Brittany Tiegs and Katie Spieler-Nikki Taylor will compete for UH in the pairs championship.
The Rainbow Wahine are ranked No. 3 in the latest AVCA national poll and finished the season with an 18-3 overall mark. UH sported six wins over ranked squads and its only three losses came against the top two teams in the nation in Pepperdine and USC. A total of 14 of the team's 18 wins came via 5-0 shutouts.
While this will be the first team appearance for program, it is not UH's first trip to the nationals. UH competed in the pairs championship during the inaugural event in 2012. The tandems of Emily Hartong-Elizabeth Stoltzmann and Jane Croson-Ashley Lee represented UH. Both pairs were knocked out during the Round of 16.