Beach volleyball still awaits match results after three weeks without word

First slot pair and winners Drae Fresenius (left) and Kenzie Houston compete at O.C. Great Park in Irvine instead of the usual beach courts during their 2021 season. Brad Hoiseth/Courtesy

Rare technical difficulties at the Santa Ana College game creates an opportunity for new legislation on the sport’s rules to be proposed after Saddleback continues to wait for the results

The Saddleback women’s beach volleyball team played Santa Ana College on April 23 back to back during an official California Community College Athletics Association match this spring season. But various factors left the game in a temporary stalemate with a 2-2 tied score. Both teams still wait for an interpreter with the organization to make the final call as to the winner of this early rift in post-COVID gameplay.

In the second competition of the season, five pairs – two on each side of the net – from each team participate in five “best of three” set matches to decide which school will acquire the majority and take home the win. Saddleback and Santa Ana College traveled to O.C. Great Park, where most of their matches are being held for the duration of the season, and contended only three because the SAC team lacked two pairs.

If one school does not have the correct number of pairs whereas the competition does, the short-handed team automatically forfeits the game slots that they do not have players for. SAC met the minimum three-pair requirement for play on April 23 while Saddleback showed up with four. This still gave the Bobcats the upper hand with one win under their belts.

“There was a dual forfeit in the fifth slot so they kind of cancelled each other out,” said Brian Hughes, the Saddleback indoor and beach volleyball coach. “Now the outcome is determined by the one, two, three, and fourth slots.”

Saddleback’s first pair won two out of the three sets within their match, 21-8 and 21-9, while the second and third were lost to the Dons, leaving the result in a tie. This is a rare affliction in volleyball history as the game does not allow ties in their scoring.

During the individual games within a match, the winning side must end with a lead of two points in order to secure a victory. Both teams still await a final say in the winner of the April 23 game.

After three weeks, a commissioner with the CCCAA has not reported an interpretation to the NCAA and produced a reason for a tie-breaker in the match. This is determined by the total amount of points accumulated by both teams over the three matches. It has not been decided whether the Bobcats will receive the 42 point lead of the fourth and fifth match forfeited by Santa Ana College. 

Fresenius (left) and Houston are second-year students at Saddleback who are the first athletes returning to their sport after the college allowed the school to participate in the spring CCCAA season. Brad Hoiseth/Courtesy

Hughes explains how this experience has shed light on how volleyball rules should be adjusted to accommodate technicalities such as these. The Orange Empire meeting between coaches in the same division as Saddleback commences at the end of every season. It opens the floor for discussion on diverse volleyball topics that can later create propositions for change in the game’s rules.

“It’s actually cool that it happened because it helps set the way for legislation for it and our supplement for the conference going forward,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for us as coaches to discuss formalities or situations that haven’t come up before and vote on it to kind of figure out what we want to do. To see if we need to make it a part of our supplement so that decisions can flatly go through our conference representative and us instead of submitting it to the commissioner.”

Sophomore and first match volleyball player, Drae Fresenius, feels confident that Saddleback will become the winners of the Santa Ana College game and in her collaboration with teammate Kenzie Huston during their early round of the day.

“My partner and I were working on what we needed to, and we kept them in the single digits on every game so that probably helps our score,” she said in response to whether the interpreter will evaluate the game based on overall points received by each team. “It was fun and competitive. My partner and I did pretty well, so I can’t really complain.”

While still waiting for the results of their second match of the year, the Saddleback women’s beach volleyball team ends their season with a tournament at Newland Street in Huntington Beach on May 21.