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It took just under fifty matches and more than seven hours of play Saturday to set up an intra-squad championship duel at the second annual Sun Devil Sand Volleyball Tournament.

With 15 teams from six different colleges eliminated, two ASU pairs fought for the title at Victory Lanes Park in Phoenix.

After going unbeaten in pool play, the duo of ASU sophomore setter Cat Highmark and freshman outside hitter Ashley Kastl defeated Texas-El Paso’s pair of Melissa Toth and Marie-Therese Joyce to reach the finals.

Their eventual opponents, ASU junior outside hitter Sarah Reaves and sophomore libero Ashley Kelty, had a tougher road to the championship.

Early in the double-elimination tournament, the Sun Devil twosome went down to Phoenix College’s Samantha Morse and Heather Bodenhamer.

“[That was] the hardest match of the day,” Reaves said.

Fortunately for ASU, the pair methodically made its way through the loser’s bracket to set up a potential revenge matchup.

This time, Reaves and Kelty would not be denied.

The duo defeated Morse and Bodenhamer twice to reach the finals.

In the championship game, Reaves and Kelty used their momentum to capture the title over their fellow Sun Devils, 21-12.

“We just said, ‘We’re winning, and that’s it,’” Reaves said.

Her teammate said confidence was the difference.

“We stayed more positive the whole time,” Kelty said. “I think in the other match, we got down a little bit on ourselves.”

Other schools represented were Arizona Western, Scottsdale Community College and Glendale Community College.

NCAA Sand Volleyball update

It is no secret that ASU coach Jason Watson is a strong supporter of the NCAA adding sand volleyball as a sanctioned sport.

But after the April 2009 decision to add the pastime to the emerging sports list, 63 schools petitioned the NCAA to reconsider.

Opponents think the addition of a second volleyball discipline might take away opportunities from student-athletes of other sports.

“I strongly believe that we’re going to be counting the same athletes two times,” Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi said, according to a USA Today article. “It’s hard for me to fathom that somebody who’s a talented young woman participating in sand volleyball could not very much stand in as a court volleyball player.”

However, at a NCAA convention in January, the petition to kill the fledgling sport fell just shy of the necessary 62.5 percent, receiving 166 of the 284 votes cast.

If all goes well, play would likely begin during the 2011-2012 school year.

“We love it,” Kelty said. “We’d like to be a part of it.”

One of the major arguments for the addition of sand volleyball is to develop a pipeline between the collegiate ranks and the exponentially growing AVP Pro Tour.

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