Cougars aim for title on sand

Senior Elyse Chubb helped the College of Charleston qualify for the first college sand volleyball championship that begins today in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Elyse Chubb realizes this weekend's sand volleyball national championships are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and an opportunity she almost didn't take.

“I wasn't even going to play sand volleyball this season,” said Chubb, a senior from Peachtree City, Ga.

Chubb was concerned the commitment to volleyball and an internship might be too much for her final semester of school. But she said she made the right decision.

This is the first season for college sand volleyball, classified as an emerging sport by the NCAA, and the College of Charleston was selected to compete for the team title along with Pepperdine, Long Beach State and Florida State.

Sixteen two-player teams representing 11 other schools also will compete for the individual title in the American Volleyball Coaches Association event that begins today and wraps up Sunday. Chubb will team with Lizzie Theesfeld as one Charleston team, while Emily Shelton and Kelly Kolich are the other team.

College of Charleston coach Jason Kepner said the chance to play for a national title is significant for the players and school.

“I was a little unsure of our chances, but as the season progressed the team really bought into it and was really excited about the possibility of competing for a national championship. I think the turning point was a 3-2 win over North Florida. They did everything possible to make our resume look as good as possible for the selection committee,” Kepner said.

Kepner said the Cougars, as the No. 4 seed, will have to play their best in the double-elimination format. The Cougars lost to Pepperdine, 5-0, early in the season but are playing with much more confidence.

“It's going to take a lot for us to win one of these matches, but I also think it's going to take a lot for people to knock us out,” Kepner said. “Pepperdine is definitely the No. 1 team in the country, but upsets do happen. We don't have to win all five; we just have to win three of them.”