Volleyball Takes Part in Collegiate Beach Challenge

Volleyball Takes Part in Collegiate Beach Challenge

April 17, 2009

Coral Gables, Fla. – Head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch is taking several student-athletes to compete in one of Florida’s premier collegiate beach volleyball tournaments on Saturday, Apr. 18, taking part in the Division I Collegiate Beach Volleyball Challenge in Siesta Key, Fla. The day-long event features non-stop beach volleyball on numerous courts beginning at 9:30 am, and the action will be broadcast live on ESPNU and CBS College Sports Online.

Beach volleyball is vastly becoming a widely-revered sport around the country. A lot of collegiate teams are beginning to participate in beach-sanctioned events throughout the spring practice/schedule period, especially teams in Florida. Last year, Miami finished just one point shy of capturing the inaugural Division I Invitational Commissioner’s Cup.

According to Lantagne Welch, the Hurricanes practiced three days this week in the sand courts on the campus of UM, and it should translate well for their transition to the beach surface this weekend.

“Beach volleyball really helps our players’ game,” added Lantagne Welch. “Their moving and jumping on sand is going to translate well on the hard court. They have to cover more area, and it’s also a fun experience for them. It is fun being outside, and just another aspect for them to enjoy in Florida.”

The rules for this weekend are as follows: Teams are first put in pool play, followed by a re-seeding process pairing teams into three different divisions. The two top teams venture into the Gold Division, followed by the Silver Division and then Bronze Division. Teams are first seeded by record and then by total points allowed.

Last season at Siesta Key, Cassie Loessberg and Ashley Woods teamed for a 7-1 record in pool play, followed by a runner-up finish in the Gold Division. With the aid of Tatiana Alvarez and Angelica Ellis, UM was able to capture the Bronze title by the Hurricanes’ duo defeating three USF teams on their way to the championship.

“We really enjoyed this event a year ago, and beach volleyball is a great compliment to the indoor game,” expressed head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch. “It helps with ball control and read skills, and it’s still being considered as a sport to add by the NCAA. It’s a great experience for our players.”

Miami has four teams seeded in this year’s field, including the combination of junior Cassie Loessberg and freshman Lane Carico. The other teams for UM include Ariell Cooke and Katie Gallagher; Maria Andersson and Lici McGee; and Griffin Udelson and Ali Becker.

Cooke has become a strong performer for the `Canes this spring, carding some of the best hitting performances in each match thus far. And freshman Becker has been strong at the net with solid blocking performances.

Joining Miami in this year’s field are USF, UCF, North Florida, Notre Dame, Stetson, Florida State, Webber, Savannah College of Art & Design, Florida Atlantic and Jacksonville.

For more information and a complete schedule of events for this year’s Collegiate Beach Volleyball Challenge, please log on to www.fiestaonsiestakey.com. For true beach volleyball enthusiasts, also going on at Siesta Key on Saturday is the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Coaches Beach Volleyball Championships.