ATLANTA - The Georgia State sand volleyball team will compete in its first- ever tournament this Saturday and Sunday at the Ron Jon Surf Shop Beach-n-Boards Fest in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
The Panthers will battle four Florida teams in the inaugural tournament in school history over the course of the two-day sand competition. Georgia State will take on Stetson, Webber, North Florida, and Jacksonville.
The Panthers will play itheir inaugural sand volleyball match against Stetson at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Then, they will meet the challenge of Webber at noon on Saturday. They will rise bright and early Sunday to take on North Florida at 8:30 a.m., and will cap off the weekend with a 2:30 p.m. match against Jacksonville.
This event will take place on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Cocoa Beach in a five-acre area called Alan Shepard (named for the astronaut) Park. Each school has 5 teams of two players, competing in best-of-three doubles matches. The weather should be perfect with Saturday's temperatue around 65 degrees at the start and mid-afternoon temperatures in the low 70s, with slight breezes around 10 mph along the coast.
Georgia State signed its first recruit class in November, 2011 and has a roster of 12 student-athletes now. GSU is one of the first 25 NCAA schools that are competing under the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) guidance and legislation. The first practice was held Monday, August 27. GSU will return to Atlanta.
GSU will play its Inaugural Home Match on Tuesday, March 12, at 5 p.m. on the new sand courts directly behind the GSU Sports Arena.
"It's exciting that the season is finally here," head coach Tami Audia said. "The ladies have been playing against each other since this past fall and beating up on each other essentially in practice. Now we are ready to go do it to somebody else."
The Panthers' opponents all have a year of experience under their belts, while this will be Georgia State's first-ever competition. Last year, Stetson went 9-8, while UNF won the Atlantic-Sun Championships.
While Georgia State does have the advantage of knowing a little about each team, it will be ready to rely mostly on fundamentals to be successful in their first matches.
"We're going to be going into this ready to make adjustments on the fly," Audia said. "It's all about adapting and overcoming essentially. We are just ready to go play.
"The girls have developed a scouting sheet they want to use and they are obviously going to help each other out, as well as Coach Van Fleet and I doing as much as we can."
Beach volleyball has become one of the most popular sports in the Summer Olympics with its fast-paced action and outdoor atmosphere in the sand.
Results will available on beachnboardsfest.com, as well as GeorgiaStateSports.com.
The Ron Jon Surf Shop Beach-n-Boards Fest schedule is as follows, with times subject to change :