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Sand Nationals: pairs da, team nyet

Early in the season, sand volleyball coach Rita Buck-Crockett said FIU's top two pairs could stand up against any in the country. FIU just needed to get some depth behind them for team success.

While FIU got enough depth to get to No. 8 in the nation, that still left them outside the velvet rope when it came to this year's American Volleyball Coaches Association Sand Volleyball Championship in the team category. Pepperdine, Long Beach State, USC, North Florida, Florida State and Louisiana-Monroe comprise that field.

But FIU's top two pairs, Kate Stepanova/Ksenia Sukhareva and Jessica Mendoza/Maryna Samoday got picked for the 16-team pairs competition -- the No. 1 pairs from the six schools in the team championship and 10 other pairs adjudged by the nation's coaches as the nation's best. Among those 10 pairs, only FIU and UCLA have two pairs in the group. 

All of this will take place May 3-5 at Gulf Shores, Alabama. The final of the team championship Saturday as well as the semifinal and final of Sunday's pairs championship will be on CBS Sports Network.

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