UNCW officially adds beach volleyball to sports portfolio


WILMINGTON, NC (UNCW) — UNCW becomes the first NCAA Division I institution in North Carolina to offer Beach Volleyball when one of the NCAA’s fastest-growing sports makes its debut in 2015-16.

The Seahawks join more than 50 schools that sponsor the sport, which plays its traditional season in the spring. UNCW joins the College of Charleston as schools in the Colonial Athletic Association with sand volleyball.

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“Beach volleyball becomes more and more popular each year and we think it will be a big hit here,” said Jimmy Bass, UNCW’s fifth-year athletic director. “Amy (Bambenek) and her staff have done a wonderful job with our indoor program and sand volleyball will complement our existing program well. Our location is a natural for the sport and we look forward to seeing sand volleyball grow and succeed in the years to come.”

The addition of beach volleyball will give UNCW 19 sports and represents the newest addition to the school’s sports portfolio since women’s soccer came on board in 1994.

“Beach volleyball has been around a long time but has gained more momentum ever since its inception as an Olympic sport and now as a collegiate sport,” said UNCW Head Coach Amy Bambenek. “The support and growth of the sport is gaining momentum across the country and I am very excited that UNCW will be a part of this new era in women’s volleyball.”

Beach volleyball was approved as an NCAA Championship sport in October of 2014 and will conduct its first national championship next spring.

Jacksonville State and Texas A&M Corpus Christi added the sport last spring and kick off their inaugural seasons with the Seahawks next spring.  Other programs in the southeast include Florida Atlantic, Florida Golf Coast, Florida International, Florida State, Georgia State, Jacksonville, Mercer, North Florida, South Carolina and Stetson.

The 2016 schedule will be announced at a later date.


WILMINGTON, NC (UNCW) — UNCW head volleyball coach Amy Bambenek has announced the addition of David Fischer to her coaching staff for the 2015-16 indoor and beach volleyball seasons.

“I feel our program has taken another huge step forward in hiring David Fischer,” said Bambenek, who enters her seventh season at the lead. “He will have significant involvement in both our indoor and beach programs, and because of his success as a sand player and coach, we will be leaning on David’s expertise to help spearhead the start of UNCW’s inaugural sand season in spring 2016.”

Fischer comes to UNCW following three seasons as the head beach volleyball coach at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

“With huge thanks to coaches Amy and AJ, I’m excited to join the Seahawks volleyball family” said Fischer. “While working to advance the success of the indoor program, I’m equally excited to help launch the beach program. Being a beach town, one with an already existing sand community, Wilmington is a terrific option for elite student-athletes. I look forward to helping the Seahawks get competition-ready as quickly as possible.”

In the Warhawks first season in 2013, Fischer helped the program to the national tournament. The program ranked in the top-three in the east and Zuzana Markova earned AVCA All-America status after she and Tanya Sukach swept UCLA at the national tournament.

In 2014, he had another pair earn AVCA All-America honors when Marcela Araya and Markova went 27-10 and earned an invitation to the AVCA Nationals. There, the duo advanced to the Elite Eight with a win over Southern California.

Last spring, ULM went 15-6 with several wins against nationally-ranked opponents including Tulane, North Florida and South Carolina. The 15 wins were the most in the brief history of the program and a ULM pair advanced to the national tournament in Gulf Shores, Ala. for a third consecutive season. ULM sent Araya and Michelle McNamee to the tournament after the duo went 22-7 during the regular season.

Fischer also assisted with the Warhawks indoor program, working with the middle and hitters.

“He provides a fresh outlook and perspective for our hitters and blockers on the court, but also helps bring out a tough competitive edge in all our players. I think our team will really enjoy learning from someone who not only has a great amount of volleyball knowledge but also places an importance emphasis on life lessons through our sport.”

A native of Santa Barbara, California, Fischer worked with the UCSB program under legendary head coach Kathy Gregory. He also served as head coach at Oxnard College for three seasons in the competitive California Junior College system.

Fischer is a graduate of Stanford where he was on the Cardinal volleyball team as an outside hitter. In 1992, Stanford reached the finals of the NCAA tournament in Muncie, Indiana. Following graduation, he played professionally on the AVP tour and several satellite tours, both in the U.S. and abroad.