Rio Hondo College's No. 1 pairs team of Paula Alferez and Carleigh Cruz have advanced to the 2016 California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Women's Beach Volleyball State Championship tournament. The event runs May 6-8 at Grossmont College in El Cajon, with pairs matches getting underway on Saturday.
Alferez and Cruz finished in fifth place in regular-season conference play and seventh overall in the 30-team Western States Conference tournament played last Wednesday and Friday at El Camino College. Alferez and Cruz beat Pierce College in the first round on Wednesday to advance to Friday's play. On Friday, they beat Bakersfield College in three sets, but then suffered a two-set loss to El Camino in the WSC quarterfinals.
Alferez and Cruz, seeded No. 30 overall for the state championships, will face the Irvine Valley College team of Emily Reinking and Hailee Earnest. Reinking and Earnest captured the Orange Empire Conference pairs title and is the state championship's overall No. 3 seed.
Rio Hondo head coach Teddi Esko is extremely proud of her squad, competing in their first official season of women's beach volleyball.
"Paula nor Carleigh had experience playing beach volleyball upon entering this season," said Esko. "As indoor players only, they dedicated themselves to adapting quickly to this challenging game and through hard work, they improved dramatically."
"The entire Rio Beach Team converted from indoor to sand in only a short three months," she added. "We had much success for our first intercollegiate season and are excited to see one of our teams representing not only our program, but the college at the state level in the inaugural season. It's a great start for the Rio Beach program with more success to come."