HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. (May 10, 2019) – By the time Cal Fisher (photo above) and Cole Bogner were done with their two pool play matches on Thursday at the USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships, the pair could say they now had four full days of beach volleyball experience.

Each athlete has played indoor volleyball for years and is currently on Penn State’s men’s indoor team.

But the Hermosa tournament is their first venture into the world of beach.

“For me, it’s about learning,” Fisher said. “Beach is new to me. I’m learning and trying to improve.”

“I think it comes down to experience,” Bogner added. “Going through these games and losing.”

When asked how beach volleyball they had played, Bogner answered, “Probably a solid four and a half days throughout the year.”

The fact that they were giving beach a try with limited experience speaks volumes about the sport’s rapidly gaining popularity. Sixteen men’s teams signed up for this year’s championships, which is the most since the tournament was opened to men’s teams in 2017.

Fisher/Bogner defeated their Penn State teammates Matthew McLaren/Luke Braswell in the first round of pool play.

Then they faced defending tournament champion Jon Justice of Florida State and his new partner, Bryce Estes of Nicholls State and lost 21-16, 21-16.

Justice was happy to see the influx of men’s teams this year.

“There’s not just more teams, but more talent,” Justice said. “All the teams across the board are really good. There’s younger guys who are hearing about it.”

After winning the tournament in 2018, Justice and partner Adam Wienckowski trained with USA Volleyball’s Under-21 team and competed at the World University Championships in Munich, Germany, finishing 18th. Justice called the experience “incredible.”

“Seeing what it takes to compete at that top level; it’s a lot of work,” Justice said. “I think most of these kids will find out that it’s worth it. “

The top three finishing women’s and men’s teams in Hermosa that still have college eligibility will be invited to train with the U21 team in Southern California.

The USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships is part of the 2019 Team USA Champions Series, presented by Xfinity. The champions series showcases numerous Olympic sports throughout the season, highlighting the year-round quest of Team USA athletes to compete at the Olympic Games. 

Women’s Pool Winners
Pool A: Claire Coppola/Kristen Nuss – LSU
Pool B: Brook Bauer/Deahna Kraft – Pepperdine
Pool C: Emma Doud/Savannah Slattery – LSU
Pool D: Crissy Jones/Macy Gordon – Cal Poly
Pool E: Megan Kruidhof/Mariana Molina – LBSU
Pool F: Lindsey Calvin/Lindsey Knudsen – Saint Mary’s College
Pool G: Devon Rachel/Jamie Rhodes – College of Charleston
Pool H: Olivia Powers/Kelli Agnew – LSU

Men’s Pool Winners
Pool A: Adam Wienckowski – Florida Atlantic/Tim Brewster – UCLA
Pool B: Jon Justice – Florida State/Bryce Estes – Nicholls State
Pool C: Wyatt Harrison/Chris Shaffer – UC San Diego
Pool D: Zachary Meyer/Jordan Hoppe – Concordia Irvine