JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – (Courtesy: Hawaii Athletics) The University of Hawai'i sand volleyball team completed its first-ever road trip in impressive fashion with a pair of championship performances at the North Florida Sand Invitational Sunday at the Jacksonville Beach sand courts.
The duo of freshman Jane Croson and senior Ashley Lee captured the pairs championship making their way through the "Gold" bracket, while senior Larissa Nordykeand sophomore Mita Uiato took home the "Silver" bracket. UH, meanwhile, finished runner-up to Florida State (34-6) for the team title after going a combined 27-13 in pool play in the seven-team tournament.
After going a perfect 8-0 in pool play, Croson and Lee continued to roll in the championship bracket on Sunday, marching all the way to the finals where they defeated Aurora Newgard and Brittany Tiegs of Florida State 21-16, 19-21, 15-11. It was the second time in four days that Croson and Lee defeated Newgard and Tiegs. The tandems earlier met during the UH-Florida State dual meet on Thursday.
UH's top-tandem of Emily Hartong and Elizabeth Stoltzman, who were a perfect 8-0 on the first day of pool play, were knocked out by Tiegs and Newgard in the quarterfinals of the "Gold" bracket via straight sets, 21-13, 21-17. UH's No. 4 team of Alex Griffiths and Monica Stauber were also knocked out of the quarterfinals by Croson and Lee, 24-26, 21-18, 15-9.
After going 1-7 in pool play and relegated to one of two consolation brackets, Nordyke and Uiato turned it around on Sunday reeling off four straight wins. The pair capped off the day with a 24-22, 21-18 straight-set win over Sam Serley and Alison Woods of UAB to claim the "Silver" bracket. Jade Vorster and Courtney Lelepali went 1-1 in the silver bracket on the second day of the tournament.
UH now returns to host its second and final home event on the season on Saturday, April 7 at Queen's Beach. UH will play HPU in a dual match in the morning beginning at 9:00 a.m. before competing with HPU and Chaminade in a doubles championship bracket.