TAVARES, Fla.- By defeating Spring Hill College, 3-2, and Eckerd College, 4-1, the Texas A&M-Kingsville beach volleyball team earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II National Championship on Sunday at the Hickory Point Beach Sand Volleyball Complex in Tavares, Fla.
This was the first year the AVCA hosted this event and the Javelinas (15-10) walked away with the trophy and the title, defeating the event’s No. 4 seed and No. 2 seeds on the final day to earn a national championship.
TAMUK vs. Spring Hill
After the Javelinas received a bye in the quarterfinal round, they took on the fourth-seeded Badgers in the semis and, while SHC had an upset in mind, TAMUK’s top three tandems were able to turn them back. The No. 1 pairing of Gabby Atchley (Concord, Calif.) and Whitney Walker (Bellingham, Wash.) collected their team’s first win by a score of 21-14, 21-12.
Brittany Bilotti and Sarah Senft were a worthy foe for junior Madison Brabham (Kingwood, Texas) and freshman Macy Berg (San Antonio, Texas), but Berg and Brabham disposed of them in consecutive sets by identical scores, 21-17, 21-17. Freshmen Tenley Housler (Bulverde, Texas) and Erin Umbel(Helotes, Texas) had to battle against Spring Hill’s No. 3’s, but a 21-18, 21-16 final secured the victory and a spot in the final for the Javelinas.
TAMUK vs. Eckerd
The Javs and Tritons had met once before in 2018, with Eckerd capturing a 4-1 victory, but this time, when it really mattered, the Javelinas were the ones who made the critical plays and that earned them a national title.
The first team to get on the board for Kingsville was that of senior Kyra Henderson (Carlsbad, Calif.) and junior Haley Hutchinson (Georgetown, Calif.). They put on a show in the fourth flight, controlling the match almost the entire way en route to a 21-16, 21-16 final. The No. 3 contest would not come as easily for Housler and Umbel. The Tritons took a 12-9 lead in the opening set, but a 7-2 rally by TAMUK’s freshman pairing gave them an advantage they’d never relinquish, closing out the frame, 21-17. When they scored a 21-15 win in the second, the Javelinas were on the precipice of a championship.
In the No. 2 match, Eckerd took an early lead before a run by Brabham and Berg moved them in front and they secured the first set 21-16. The second set would be a back-and-forth affair, but Kingsville’s second pairing eventually took a 20-18 lead. That’s when Berg set up Brabham for the kill that locked up the first-ever AVCA National Championship. Senior Madeline Sims (Aztec, N.M.) and sophomore Loren Washington (Round Rock, Texas) then put a bow on the title by wrapping up the fifth flight, 21-19, 12-21, 16-14.