MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin beach volleyball era begins this weekend as the Skyhawks travel to Franklin, Tenn. for four matches on Friday, March 17 and Saturday, March 18.
It was announced in August 2016 that UT Martin would be one of 53 NCAA schools to sponsor beach volleyball. After months of preparation and anticipation, the Skyhawks will officially make their debut with matches on Friday against Central Arkansas (12:30 p.m.) and Carson-Newman (5:30 p.m.). UT Martin then takes on Missouri Baptist (2 p.m.) and Austin Peay (6 p.m.) on Saturday.
In addition to UT Martin, the volleyball programs at Austin Peay and Central Arkansas are also on their first year. Carson-Newman is in its third year of beach volleyball while Missouri Baptist is in its second season sponsoring a program. Those five teams will gather for round-robin play at the Franklin Beach House, which opened in October 2015 and is the only place in the Southeast to play sand volleyball indoors.
“We are excited to be a part of school history this weekend,” Skyhawk head coach Jaclynn Yocum said. “These last few months have been a learning process but we are eager to get out there and compete.”
Eight of UT Martin’s nine players also competed on the indoor volleyball team in the fall. Macy Catlett and Hannah Phillips will join forces this weekend while Jemima Idemudia and Macy Reigelsperger will also team up together. Rachel Noffsinger and Hayley Gray will make up one of the Skyhawk teams while Kelly Lean will pair with newcomer Saphyra Coombs-James in the absence of Sarah Shaw, who is sidelined with an illness.
This weekend is the first of 10 dates on UT Martin’s 2017 beach volleyball schedule. The Skyhawks will also face Morehead State, UAB, Lincoln Memorial, Louisiana-Monroe and Houston Baptist this spring as the 16-match schedule runs through April 22.