Hawai’i, Penn State, Pepperdine players earn victories at Hermosa Beach Open

Three current college men’s volleyball players competing as amateurs came up short of winning the qualification tournament and making the main draw for one of the nation’s biggest professional beach volleyball events this year.

The pair of Pepperdine setter Robert Mullahey and Penn State incoming freshman outside attacker Will Bantle, along with Hawai’i outside attacker Colton Cowell and his partner all won multiple matches at the AVP Hermosa Beach Open on Thursday in Hermosa Beach, California.

Bantle and Mullahey advanced to all the way to the qualifier to the main draw match before losing to Brian Miller and Brett Ryan 21-17, 21-23, 15-11. The college pair won its first two matches earlier that day in the qualification tournament, including a three-game victory in the second round.

Cowell and his teammate former UC San Diego outside attacker Jeff Urton followed its play-in match sweep with a three-game overtime victory in the second round. However, the team lost to Jace Olsen and Christopher Long 21-18, 16-21, 15-13 in the second round to be eliminated from the tournament.

Both Bantle and Mullahey were high school teammates and are on the verge of starting their college careers.

Mullahey redshirted as a freshman last season with the Waves. In addition, Bantle signed a national letter of intent with the Nittany Lions in December after being named the Best Offensive Player in his high school conference.

Similar to Mullahey, Cowell redshirted during the 2017 season. The Rainbow Warriors during Cowell’s sophomore redshirt year advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals.

Eight of the more than 70 teams competing in the qualification tournament advanced to the 24-team main draw of the Hermosa Beach Open.

The double-elimination main draw tournament started on Friday and will conclude with the championship match on Sunday.