NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship will hopefully be back in 2027

NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship will hopefully be back in 2027
May 3-5 event is last scheduled at its birthplace, Gulf Shores Public Beach

By Fran Thompson
The National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship returns to Gulf Shores Public Beach for the eighth but hopefully not final time May 3-5.
Although the tourney will move to Huntington Beach in 2025 and 2026, Gulf Shores officials have already stated they will make a strong push for a long term contract to have the tourney return to its proper home starting in 2027.
The top 17 teams from around the country will gather in Gulf  Shores to compete in the single-elimination championship that has called Gulf Shores home since its inception in 2016.
All championship weekend duals, including the May 3 play-in game at 8 a.m. between the 16th & 17th seeds, will air live on the various ESPN networks. The championship match will air live on the flagship ESPN on Sunday, May 5. The official starting time is 10 a.m. But last year’s match started an hour later than that. Single day general admission tickets are $30 per person, and there are many other options available. Tickets can be purchased at
Gulf Shores has already proven it is committed to making the city synonymous with beach volleyball at all levels and age groups. It is currently in negotiations to bring the AVCA Small College Beach Volleyball Championships to Gulf Shores Public Beach on a permanent basis.
This past December, the city announced plans for an $8.2 million, 40,000 sq. ft multi-sports facility at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex on County Rd. 6 that will include indoor and outdoor beach volleyball courts. Having dedicated beach volleyball indoor courts and outdoor lighted courts will even further help Gulf Shores grow as a national beach volleyball destination.
“This is definitely a project that I think is needed for our community and I’ve been doing other things with recreation in our area for 20 years now,” said Shawn Weaver, the director of the Alabama Gulf Coast Sports Center group that will be tasked with operating the facility.
Weaver and Phillip Bryant laid the groundwork that paved the way for Gulf Shores to secure the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships.
Along with other staff from the Pleasure Island Volleyball Club, the men also organize and direct the USAV Gulf Coast Region Beach Bash that brings more than 500 beach volleyball junior teams to Gulf Shore Public Beach on NCAA Championship weekend.
“People tell us all the time how well this tourney is run. The same with the National Championship,’’ Weaver said.
The first USAV Gulf Coast Region Beach national qualifier drew a couple dozen teams.
“Right now it is the largest national qualifier in the nation for beach volleyball,’’ said Weaver.
Bryant said that even though the championship is moving to Huntington Beach for two years, he expects a more permanent return to Pleasure Island.
“The NCAA wants to advertise the sport in the California market, but (former USC coach) Donna Collier said that she can’t get her girls fired up to go to Huntington Beach, but she can get them fired up by saying, ‘let’s go win a championship in Gulf Shores.’’’
Beach volleyball easily made the quickest transition from emerging sport to championship sport in NCAA history, going from zero programs to 67 Division I teams in its first six years. There’s not another NCAA sport on record that’s picked up even 50 Division I programs in six years. There are now more than 100 Division 1 colleges split among nine conferences offering beach volleyball scholarships. California has made girls’ beach volleyball a sanctioned high school sport, following in the footsteps of Arizona, the first state to do so.