SFA to make beach volleyball its latest NCAA sport

SFA to make beach volleyball its latest NCAA sport
(Source: Beames, Caleb)

From SFA Athletics

In an announcement made Wednesday by SFA director of athletics Ryan Ivey, SFA will added beach volleyball as its 18th NCAA Division I intercollegiate sport. SFA's inaugural season of beach volleyball will be the 2019-20 academic year with the sport set to receive full funding the following year (2020-21). "We are excited about the opportunity to add Beach Volleyball to our sport offerings," commented Ivey. "Having Beach Volleyball provides a fun and unique sport that provides another entertainment and student engagement opportunity, while showing our continued commitment to our Title IX plan." Picked to lead the Ladyjacks' beach volleyball program is head coach Alex Luna who joins SFA following a two-year stint as the assistant beach volleyball coach at San Jose State University. While on the Spartans' staff, Luna also served as an assistant coach for the indoor volleyball program. With the addition of beach volleyball at SFA, Debbie Humphreys will continue to serve as the Ladyjacks' volleyball coach and will also serve as the director of volleyball which includes joint oversight of the beach volleyball program. "We are excited to welcome Alex to SFA and Nacogdoches as our very first Beach Volleyball coach," Ivey remarked.

With Luna on staff, the Spartans captured the beach program's first marquee victory in 2017 when they upended 18th-ranked California. Following that victory, the Spartans found themselves receiving votes in the AVCA Top 20 Coaches Poll for the first time in program history.

Luna's indoor accolades during his two seasons in San Jose include helping lead the Spartans to an upset of 21st-ranked Colorado State in 2017. Primarily working with the team's middle blockers and setters, Luna helped prep two-time All-Mountain West middle blocker Nandyala Gama and All-Mountain West setter Breann Robinson in 2017. In 2018, Middle Blocker Thaliana Grajeda took home an All-Mountain West Honorable Mention choice. He most recently traveled to Europe as the Assistant Coach for the Mountain West All-Star team on a foreign tour where they finished second in the 2018 Global Challenge (behind the Collegiate National team).

Through his career he has been involved with both Indoor and Beach USAV High Performance National Team Selection Camps and Tryouts, as well a number of camps during the summer including serving as a court coach at TCU, Beach and Indoor camps in Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, and California.

He also worked at John Paul II High School in Richardson, Texas, as a varsity assistant and junior varsity coach. Luna stays very involved in coaching education and has gone through his second Beach Coaching Accreditation Program (BCAP II).

Luna began his coaching career in club volleyball with Club Max in the North Texas Region where he was the 15s National assistant coach. He coached for Texas Volleyball Training on the beach side and qualified multiple pairs for the beach nationals.

Later, he left Club Max to help create Arete Athletics where he served as the 16s National head coach. The team recorded two third-place finishes and seven top-10 finishes while achieving a top-20 ranking over 140 clubs. Off the court, Luna also served as the marketing assistant for the club. He also continued to coach beach with the Texas Volleyball Training and The Beach at Craig Ranch.

A native of Dallas, Texas, Luna played club volleyball as an outside hitter at UT Dallas and got his start on the collegiate coaching scene by serving as an undergraduate assistant coach for that institution in 2014. He stays active in the beach, having acquired his AA rating in the CBVA as well as traveling every year to compete in the largest Grass and Outdoor Volleyball tournaments in the country. He most recently won the Chicago Summer Luau Grass Tournament and previously won at The Waupaca Boatride tournament in Wisconsin.

SFA’s addition of beach volleyball is concurrent with the Southland Conference’s plan to sponsor a beach volleyball championship beginning in the 2020 season. In addition to SFA, five other Southland Conference members - Abilene Christian, Central Arkansas, Houston Baptist, New Orleans and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi - sponsor beach volleyball with that number expected to grow. SFA will play its matches at the SFA Outdoor Volleyball Complex - a four-court venue that will be located adjacent to the HPE and the Student Recreation Center on SFA’s campus. Plans for the Complex include spectator seating and the potential for exterior illumination.

NCAA BEACH VOLLEYBALL HISTORY | Getting its start on the NCAA scene by getting approved as an emerging sport for women in 2009, beach volleyball was originally called sand volleyball and by October of 2014 the sport had exceeded its original target goal of having 40 NCAA varsity programs. At that point, the sport was approved by Division I programs to be the NCAA’s 90th championship sport. In 2015, the NCAA officially changed the name of the sport to beach volleyball with the first NCAA Division I championship being held in 2016.

NCAA BEACH VOLLEYBALL RULES | In NCAA beach volleyball, two schools play five best two-out-of-three set doubles matches against one another, with the winner being the first to claim at least three of the contests. Teams are required to take part in a minimum of eight matches on a maximum of 16 playing dates. The majority of teams play 4-5 matches per weekend over a span of four weekend tournaments.