Beach Bears Finish Inaugural Season with Wins at Home

The UCA beach volleyball team went undefeated at the UCA Beach Tournament from April 20 to April 22 at the Beach Bear sand courts.

They went up against the University of Tennessee at Martin, Houston Baptist University and University of Louisiana Monroe.

The first game was against Tennessee, and UCA dominated the team 5-0 without dropping a set.

It started off with sophomores Megan Nash and Hayley Tippett defeating freshmen Hannah Phillips and Macy Catlett in the first match and Tennessee Martin forfeited the last two matches due to injury.

The second game against Houston Baptist University proved to be more of a test for the Beach Bears, but they still won 3-2 right before playing Tennessee Martin again on the same day.

Houston Baptist University won the last match against senior Amy South and freshman Mackenzie Dear.

It came down to the first match with Tippett and Nash, who secured the victory for

Central Arkansas with a 21-17, 14-21, 18-16 win over senior Jessica Wooten and sophomore Aeriel Horton.

According to the UCA Sports website, the day’s second match was a much smoother affair, as the Beach Bears swept Tennessee without dropping a set.

Tennessee was plagued with injuries again. Freshman Abbie Harry and sophomore Kimberly Schnars, South and Dear and Kellen Dunn and MC Rogers all won by forfeit, before Kate Elman and Schnars got things started in earnest with a 21-6, 21-11 win over junior Jemima Idemudia and junior Macy Reigelsperger at the No. 3 slot.

Sophomore Kristine Hjembo and junior Stephanie Pollnow picked up a 21-12, 21-5 win over juniors Rachel Noffsinger and Hayley Gray at the No. 2 position, before Tippett and Nash defeated Catlett and Phillips 21-15, 21-11 to close out the match.

The final inaugural match against the University of Louisiana Monroe was a sweep for the Beach Bears, with no forfeits by the other team.

“ULM was the biggest test for us because we were the first team to ever beat them on their home courts. So they wanted revenge when they came to play us at our home,” Harry said.

Although it’s the Beach Bears inaugural season, UCA’s beach volleyball team finished with a 14-3 record. Their only losses came from top 25 teams Texas Christian University, Louisiana State University and Tulane University.

“It felt amazing. It was really cool to make history here especially because we’re the first beach program in Arkansas,”Harry said.

South said the toughest game was against HBU.

“We’ve beat them twice already this season and we knew they were coming after us on our home courts,” she said.

South said that because HBU is an older program, it felt good to beat them three times.

Elman was satisfied with the team’s first-year performance.

“This was my first year training and playing in tournaments,” she said. “I think most of our opponents underestimated us and I think we shocked a lot of people by how hard we work.”

Photos by Monica Sanders. 

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