SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — About six hours after it was eliminated in the championship round of the Big West Championship, the No. 9 University of Hawai‘i beach volleyball team made the NCAA tournament as an at-large team, it was announced on Saturday.
The BeachBows will be the No. 13 seed in the bracket and will face No. 4 seed Loyola Marymount in a single-elimination match on Wednesday in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
“My first feeling was, ‘Wow, I’m stoked we’re in and this is amazing,’” Hawai‘i interim coach Evan Silberstein said. “I thought LMU was pushed a little high and I thought we dropped a little lower than I might’ve expected.”
Facing elimination in the conference championship entering Saturday, Hawai‘i won in the semifinal round over No. 11 Long Beach State 3-2, ending with a thrilling three-set win by Hawai‘i in the No. 3 flight that was the winning point.
“If we would have lost to Long Beach, my math had us out and Long Beach in,” Silberstein said about how the NCAA tournament selections would have been if the results of that match were different.
Hawai‘i had a quick turnaround as they had to play No. 14 Cal Poly for the second time in as many days, but the Mustangs clinched the championship and the conference’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament by winning three of the first four flights completed on their way to a 3-2 win.
The BeachBows are 1-1 against Loyola Marymount this season; the two teams played at the Clarence T. C. Ching Athletic Complex on Apr. 9 and 10, with both matches ending in a 3-2 result.
“The pressure is on them and that’s a good thing,” Silberstein said. “As a 13 seed, we have absolutely nothing to lose in a moment.”
The match between Hawai‘i and Loyola Marymount is scheduled to start at 6 a.m. HT. The matches will be streamed on ESPNU.