Arizona is first to make beach volleyball an official sport

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

The state of Arizona is making volleyball history, and not the type most might think of. While traditional, girls volleyball has long been one of the staples of the Arizona fall sports calendar, the Grand Canyon state is about to become the first to offer beach volleyball as an officially sanctioned sport.

Phoenix-area teens might not be look like Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh (who are pictured below) right away, but they might get an early start on developing the same skills as early as spring 2012.

U.S. Olympic volleyball sars Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh
U.S. Olympic volleyball sars Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh

"We looked around and couldn't find any other states with high school sand volleyball," said Eric Hodgson, outreach director of the Arizona Region, told the Associated Press.

As reported by the AP and a host of other sources, the Arizona Interscholastic Association unanimously approved a proposal that was raised by USA Volleyball's Arizona region which called for official beach volleyball competition to begin in spring 2012.

The new sport will field 12-girl teams, with each squad made up of five doubles teams and two alternates who can fill in for injured or sick members of the team's traditional pairings, not unlike the doubles portions of high school tennis teams. Scoring will follow rules similar to traditional indoor volleyball, and the players' uniforms will also be similar to those worn in fall volleyball season.

While it's too early to know how the competition will unfold in its first season, Arizona's adoption of the sport is an impressive start for a sport which USA volleyball feels could easily spread nationwide much quicker than might be anticipated.

"I think it shows the traction that the sport is likely to have going forward as more and more NCAA institutions adopt sand volleyball," USA Volleyball CEO Doug Beal told the AP. "Arizona could easily become the model for the direction other states will follow in making this a sanctioned high school sport."

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