Sunday, 3 December 2023

International Volleyball

MPSF, Big 12 join NCAA beach volleyball mix in 2025; CCSA soldiers on

MPSF, Big 12 join NCAA beach volleyball mix in 2025; CCSA soldiers on

USC celebrated in the Gulf of Mexico after winning the 2023 NCAA title/Michael Gomez photo

Significant changes will hit the landscape of college beach volleyball in 2025, even as one telling question remains unanswered for the upcoming season.

The breakup of the Pac-12 Conference, home to several of the college game’s most successful programs, was a catalyst for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation to add beach volleyball to the sports it sanctions for the 2024-25 school year.

The addition to the Big 12 of three schools with beach-volleyball teams prompted that well-established league to add the sport for 2024-25. The news from both conferences broke last week and will take effect for the 2025 sand season.

The MPSF long has sponsored men’s indoor volleyball in its catch-all menu that includes swimming and diving, water polo and gymnastics. Its startup women’s beach lineup will include six teams displaced from the Pac-12 — USC, UCLA, Oregon, Washington, California and Stanford — along with Grand Canyon, which will move from the CCSA.

In most other sports, USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington will belong to the Big Ten, Cal and Stanford to the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Grand Canyon to the Western Athletic Conference. UCLA, USC, Stanford and Grand Canyon are MPSF members in men’s indoor volleyball.

Some powerhouse sand programs will find a new home there, particularly USC and UCLA, the only teams to win NCAA titles since beach volleyball received full sanction in 2016. Grand Canyon, Stanford and Cal earned bids to the 17-team field for the 2022 NCAA Championship, in which USC defeated UCLA in the final to three-peat as national champs.

“Amidst so much change in the world of collegiate athletics, it is great to see the steps that are being taken in order to promote the growth and visibility of beach volleyball,” USC coach Dain Blanton said in a release from the MPSF. “USC joining the Big Ten Conference was certainly a huge step in the right direction, and we are excited to be able to maintain a high level of competition among the teams that we will join the MPSF with.

“The MPSF has been a fantastic partner throughout this process and has long served as a strong West Coast presence for so many sports, including men’s volleyball when I was a student-athlete (at Pepperdine).”

A numbers conundrum

The Big 12 will have four teams: TCU, Arizona State, Arizona and Utah. The latter three joined the conference in…

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