After just one year spent in the Atlantic Sun Conference, the APSU beach volleyball team is getting a backing from the Ohio Valley.
The OVC announced that beach volleyball would be included as a championship sport back in August. The conference’s first official season still excites head coach, Taylor Mott, as the Governors prepare for their first tournament in early March.
“We thought that this would happen down the road, but I don’t think any of us thought this would happen so quickly,” Mott said on the upcoming OVC season. “It’s so cool to be a part of so many firsts. I’m proud of the OVC for taking that step.”
The OVC is now one of five core conferences sponsoring beach volleyball at the division one level. The sport has made a surging impact on the NCAA since its debut in 2012. Beach volleyball as a whole finished last season with over 75 teams competing on a national level.
Mott claims the change from the A-SUN to the OVC will be an advantage for the Govs.
“Last year, the Atlantic Sun was tough: the travel was tough, you’ve got [four] schools in the state of Florida that play beach all year round. I think this is a better fit for us,” Mott said.
Mott, who additionally serves as the school’s volleyball coach, is in the program’s fifth season of existence. The indoor volleyball team plays a crucial role in the core of the outdoor team’s current roster. 12 of the 14 players listed on the Govs’ outdoor roll play indoors during the fall.
The Governors split their season in 2019, producing a program record 15 wins. Mott accredits an improvement in beach volleyball recruitment to the team’s gradual success.
“This year, we were fortunate to add two very good beach-only girls on top of our returning indoor players that have now played beach for two and three years. It’s just experience, every year you go we get a little bit better and gain a little bit more experience,” Mott said.
The Governors maintained all but five players from a season ago and boast seven upperclassmen going into 2020. APSU hosts the third edition of the Govs Beach Bash March 21-22, battling against Ottawa (Kan.), and Lincoln Memorial, while conference foes Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State will also be in attendance throughout the weekend event.
“It’s good to see our conference opponents, but really what’s going to matter is when we play them in the conference championship late April,” Mott said on the Bash. “I think it’s good getting to see your opponent before you have to play them for real. I think playing these teams are good stepping stones to what we will face at the end of April.”
APSU is one of six members in the OVC’s inaugural beach volleyball season. The Governors kick off their season at Central Arkansas for the UCA Beach Tournament March 6-7.