A-Sun Sand Volleyball Championship Begins Saturday

Friday, April 19, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The A-Sun continues its leadership in the sport of sand volleyball this weekend, as the conference’s quintet of teams will vie for the first automatic bid to the 2013 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championship at the 2013 A-Sun Sand Volleyball Championship, hosted by Jacksonville University at the Dolphin Beach Volleyball Complex.

Fans can follow the championship action from court No. 1 both days, April 20-21, at no charge on ASun.TV, as well as all of the championship coverage provided by the A-Sun on Twitter (#ASunSVB), Facebook (Atlantic Sun Conference) and the Sand Volleyball Championship page at www.atlanticsun.org.

No. 1 NORTH FLORIDA

Defending Champion North Florida has set the bar high for A-Sun volleyball, winning the conference’s inaugural tournament championship last season and claiming the A-Sun’s first regular season title this year. The Ospreys were a perfect 8-0 in A-Sun play in 2013, and Head Coach Steve Loeswick is once again the A-Sun Sand Volleyball Coach of the Year. The Ospreys’ #3/4 pair of Julie Trembley and Britt Claessens enjoyed a fantastic season for UNF, posting records of 16-0 overall and 8-0 in the A-Sun.

The defending A-Sun Pair of the Year, Anna Budinska and Dagnija Medina, went 9-6 overall and 7-1 in a-Sun play. They were also selections to the 2013 All-Conference team. Two other pairs for the Ospreys, Paige Pridgeon/Cameron McGuire and Emily Strack and Anna Wagner, posted 12-5 and 12-4 overall records, respectively, and identcial 6-2 marks in the A-Sun.

No. 2 STETSON

Stetson has already faced Jacksonville and the conference regular-season champion UNF a combined six times this season, but despite winning records from four of their five pairs, the Hatters will have a new look for their opponents in the tournament. Kaley Melville, who earned first team all-conference honors while paired with Julie Bassett, will be joined at the no. 1 position by Maren Rygh. Julie Bassett, the 2012 Sand Volleyball Freshman of the Year, will team with Claudia Kalin at the no. 2 position, and Savannah Byl will be paired with Katie DiGirolamo at the no. 3 seed.

The one pairing that has not changed for Stetson is first team all-conference duo Alisha Hoffman and Catherine Coston, who will play at the no. 4 spot this weekend. The pair went 13-7 overall in the regular season including a 7-1 mark in conference matches. Hoffman, who has been playing sand volleyball since she was five, and Coston, who just starting playing competively this year, compliment each other well on the court. The pairs of Bassett/Melville and Coston/ Hoffman were selected to the A-Sun All-Conference Team. The no. 5 spot will feature another new pairing as Jordann Dierickx will team with Erika White.

NO. 3 JACKSONVILLE

The Dolphins were well represented in All-Conference honors in 2013, as they claimed the Pair of the Year (Sammie Strausbaugh/Ttaylor Nyquist) honors as well as the Scholar-Athlete of the Year (Strausbaugh) and Freshman of the Year (Gabriela Roman). They also placed three on the All-Freshman Team and two on the Academic All-Conference Team.

The A-Sun Pair of the Year, Strausbaugh and Nyquist, posted a 16-2 overall record and a 7-1 mark in A-Sun play. The duo was also the only pair this season to place a blemish on the record of UNF’s defending Pair of the Year of Budinska and Medina.

No. 4 FGCU

The Eagles’ pair of Kaitlin Holm and Whitney Masters enjoyed membership to the All-Conference Team, posting a 5-7 record. Masters also earned a spot on the A-Sun Academic All-Conference team, boating a 3.88 GPA in nursing. FGCU picked up its A-Sun wins against Jacksonville and Mercer and out of conference against FAU.

No. 5 MERCER

The Bears pushed A-Sun Champion North Florida, as well as FGCU and Jacksonville and non-conference foe Georgia State to the limit in 3-2 matches but in the end was unable to pick up victory this season. Molly Locke (2-11) was named to the All-Freshman Team and Erin Brett was an Al-Academic selection with a 3.86 GPA in Enrionmental Engineering. An All-Tourmament selection from 2012, Jamie Duffy returns for her second sand volleyball championship for the Bears having seen action with Mercer’s No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 pairings.

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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun footprint reaches into seven of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, Northern Kentucky University, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.