Pepperdine’s Summer Ross—who spent three months playing indoor volleyball for Washington before transferring—suffered an unexpected loss in her first-ever collegiate sand volleyball dual match.
Ross and her partner, Caitlin Racich, dropped their match yesterday against Long Beach State’s Tara Roenicke and Caitlin Ledoux, 21-19, 17-21, 6-15. Overall, Pepperdine won the dual competition 3-2.
Ross and Racich are the Waves’ Number 1 team. Last week, the pair reached the finals of the USC Invitational, defeating Roenicke and Ledoux along the way, before losing in the championships to Florida State’s Aurora Newgard and Brittany Tiegs, 21-16, 16-21, 10-15. Pepperdine won the three-day tournament, finishing ahead of USC, Florida State and Long Beach State.
At the USC Invitational, Ross and Racich scored impressive victories against several high-profile indoor players, including Florida State’s Jekaterina Stepanova (2nd team All-American) and USC’s Kendall Bateman (1st team All-American). Both USC's and FSU's indoor teams reached the 2011 Final Four. Long Beach’s Ledoux was an Honorable Mention All-American; Roenicke has competed with the US Junior National Indoor Team.
In 2011, Ross was selected USA Beach Player of the Year, after winning two international juniors tournaments, with two different partners. As a Washington freshman, Ross started all 32 matches, recording 167 kills, 115 blocks and a team-leading 27 service aces. She transferred to Pepperdine to be closer to her family’s San Diego home and to play NCAA sand volleyball. Her older brother, Chase Ross, is a starting outside hitter on the Waves’ men’s team.
Ross and her teammates are on their way to South Carolina, where they’ll compete this weekend in the Charleston Sand Classic, featuring Alabama-Birmingham, North Florida, Mercer and host College of Charleston.
A handy guide from the Pepperdine Sand Volleyball website:
SAND VOLLEYBALL 101 - Each team competition is called a dual and will consist of five pairs from one school versus five pairs from another school. Each match is worth one point towards the team score. In this best-of-five format, a winner is determined when a team scores at least three points (similar to how collegiate tennis duals are contested).
The separate matches consist of the best-of-three sets, with rally scoring to 21 in the first two sets and to 15 in the third set if necessary. Teams must win by at least two points.
Pairs competitions will also be held this season, with the two-person teams being placed in brackets and playing in single elimination tournaments.
The AVCA National Team Championship will be held in the same format as the team competition at the USC Tournament. The No. 1 pairs from all four schools in attendance will play each other in a double-elimination flight (No. 2 vs. No. 2 etc.), with a sudden death final. The first-place team from each flight is awarded four points, second place earns three points, two points for third place and point for fourth. The team with the most points at the end is crowned the champion.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? - There are a few key elements of sand volleyball that differ from its indoor counterpart. No open hand tipping is allowed, and the block touch counts as the first of three allowable contacts. Coaches may only speak to players or give instruction during timeouts or between sets. Finally, to make a level playing field with regards to impact of the sun and wind, the players switch sides of the court every seven points in a 21 point set, and every five points in a 15 point set. The court is also smaller at 8x8 meters, while the indoor court measures 9x9 meters.
WHAT'S AN EMERGING SPORT? - Collegiate sand volleyball is an "emerging sport." It has 10 years to gain the minimum 40 sponsoring institutions for two years in a row to be considered an NCAA Championship sport.