NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships fields the most teams ever

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 4:39 PM CDT
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GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) - Some of the top female athletes in the country are in Gulf Shores this week for the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships. Seventeen schools are competing this week with play getting underway Wednesday afternoon, May 3, 2023.

Finishing touches were being put on the playing surface at the main beach in Gulf Shores Wednesday. The snowy white sands have been home to this tournament since the sport of beach volleyball became officially sanctioned by the NCAA in 2016. The partnership has been good for all involved.

Seventeen teams from across the country competing this week in Gulf Shores
Seventeen teams from across the country competing this week in Gulf Shores(Hal Scheurich)

“They love this venue,” NCAA Director of Championships and Alliances, Kirstin Fasbender said of the teams in town. “I think everybody knows what a great job Gulf Shores…the Sports Commission and the city of Gulf Shores have done to make this a great experience for student athletes.”

“We get to showcase our beautiful white sand beaches right here in Gulf Shores, Alabama and last year, this event generated over two thousand room nights which is a one-point-five-million-dollar impact to our area,” said VP of Sales and Marketing for Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism, Michelle Russ. “There’s also a junior event taking place as well. That brings in over four hundred teams.”

The sport of beach volleyball continues to grow in popularity, bringing in more spectators each year. Television coverage is once again on ESPN broadcast platforms but those who come in person will see some of the best in the world up close.

“Our top two US teams are actually pairs that have played in this tournament over the last couple of years, so you will see that you have a top pair that played at USC that is together, a top team that played at LSU, so they are definitely making their way into the international ranks,” noted Fasbender.

May has become a huge tourism month, with the volleyball tournaments kicking things off this week, followed by the AHSAA track and field championships, a huge softball tournament and wrapping up with the Hangout Music Festival. While it may be an inconvenience to some residents, city officials believe the results are worth it.

“Our nearly fifty-million-dollar general fund budget that is really funded by a tourism economy provides amazing facilities for our residents and for our youth and for our schools systems to be able to have the finest and the best of the best which we get to experience fifty-two weeks of the year,” explained Grant Brown with the city of Gulf Shores.

Since there are 17 teams this year, the first match is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. It’s single elimination so whoever wins between A&M Corpus Christi and UT Martin will move on. Access to the main beach in front of the Hangout is closed except for those attending the tournament. Free roadside parking can be found throughout the walking district surrounding the event.