NCSVA beach volleyball tournament draws largest field to LU
April 28, 2018 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's men's and women's beach volleyball teams hosted Saturday's 2018 NCSVA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, with 32 teams from more than 10 universities competing for airfare to the NCSVA National Championships in Hermosa, Calif., in early August. Central Florida, Florida State, JMU, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Florida, Southern Virginia, VCU, and Virginia Tech were among the institutions represented.
|Flames senior Gene Dejesus leaps to spike a set from men's indoor teammate Kaden Knepper.|
"Seeing so many teams from all over the East Coast was incredible," Liberty Head Coach Kaleb VanDePerre said.
Seeding for morning pool play was determined by NCSVA points. The top two teams from each four-team pool advanced to the gold bracket of afternoon single-elimination playoffs at the Liberty Mountain Intermural Complex and the remaining two competed in the silver bracket at the East Courts.
Liberty experienced the most success in the silver bracket with its duo of freshman Hannah Heller and junior Madison Riley defeating junior teammate Jennifer Rice and Morgan Burgraff in the women's finals and the Flames' tandem of junior Peter Gooch and sophomore Matthew Gille winning the men's division when Liberty junior Stephen Leong and sophomore Daniel Koloff had to forfeit due to cramping.
In the women's gold bracket, Liberty freshman Alyssa Register and sophomore Olivia Jensen defeated the Lady Flames freshmen duo of Hannah Schanz and Rachel Weaver in a tight three-game match, decided by a 15-13 tie-breaker. Jensen and Register were eliminated in the semifinals by a UNC tandem which lost to Tar Heels teammates Cass Michal and Maredith Devlin in the championship match.
On the men's side, Liberty senior Alex Lower and junior Josh Talamoa lost a tough quarterfinal match to a team from South Florida before the Flames' indoor tandem of junior Kaden Knepper and senior Gene DeJesus dropped a three-game semifinal match to another USF duo. Florida State's Jon Justice, who won the national title last year, and Christian Kinlaw prevailed in the championship match.
"It was great for us to get to battle with the Florida teams," VanDePerre said. "I was really proud of Gene and Kaden for their performance in the semis. I always say it is OK to be beat, as long as we don't beat ourselves. They were defeated by a better team."
Each winner took home a pair of Oakley sunglasses, a park and sun net system, hats, sand socks, umbrellas, and a $600 travel stipend to the NCSVA National Championships.
Though Liberty finished out of the prize money, VanDePerre said the relationships his players formed with competitors throughout the Southeast were invaluable.
"That is our number one goal — to live out the Gospel and create those bonds that get people coming back to experience what Liberty is all about," he said.
This Saturday, Liberty will host a co-ed tournament on its eight beach courts. Starting at 9 a.m., it will feature beginner, intermediate, and advanced divisions and is open to anyone.
Over the summer, Liberty will travel to Big Money tournaments in Virginia Beach on June 9 and July 7 and host an NCSVA tournament on June 16 and the Commonwealth Games tournament on July 28-29 over Main Games Weekend, the weekend before NCSVA Nationals.