UCLA Beach Volleyball Looks to Defend Back to Back Titles
The two-time defending national champion Bruins begin the defense of their titles this morning.
After capturing the 2021 Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Championship, the UCLA beach volleyball team will begin to defend their back-to-back titles when they open the NCAA Beach Volleyball Tournament this morning in Dual #1 against the TCU Horned Frogs. The Bruins will face either LMU or LSU later today with the time of that dual being determined by the result of Dual #1.
Last Time Out
On Saturday, UCLA won both of their matches to win the Pac-12 Championship. In the first match, the Bruins defeated Southern Cal, 3-1, to move to the championship match.
The first pair to finish in the first match was Lea Monkhouse and Devon Newberry who easily defeated Julia Scoles and Sammy Slater, 21-15, 21-16 on Court Two. Megan Muret and Jacqueline Quade wrapped up their dual against Joy Dennis and Delaynie Maple next, 21-17, 22-20, on Court Four. With UCLA now up 2-0, Southern Cal needed a point to stay alive and they got that on Court One where Tina Graudina and Megan Kraft beat Savvy Simo and Lexy Denaburg, 21-11, 21-16.
But it didn’t matter.
That’s because Rileigh Powers and Jaden Whitmarsh were in the process of taking down Audrey and Nicole Nourse, 21-18, 21-16, on Court Five. That clinched the win for the Bruins and stopped play on Court Three where Abby Van Winkle and Lindsey Sparks had won their first set against Hailey Harward and Haley Hallgren, 21-17, and were winning their second set, 19-18, at the time play was stopped.
UCLA’s win sent the Trojans to the losers’ bracket for another match, where they defeated Stanford, 3-0, to advance to the championship match against the Bruins.
This time, the Trojans came out of the gate quicker. Dennis and Maple were able to get the better of Muret and Quade, 21-16, 21-16. That put the Bruins down 1-0 but Monkhouse and Newberry tied the match up 1-1 by beating Scoles and Slater, 15-21, 21-12, 15-13. On Court One, Graudina and Kraft put Southern Cal on the verge of winning the title by defeating Simo and Denaburg, 21-19, 21-17.
But Van Winkle and Sparks didn’t let that happen. They took their dual against Harward and Hallgren, 11-21, 21-15, 15-13. That tied the match back up at 2-2.
That meant the championship came down to the pairs on Court Five. Powers and Whitmarsh got past the Nourse sisters in two sets, 21-17, 23-21, to earn the Bruins the conference title.
TCU Horned Frogs
UCLA begins their title defense with a dual against TCU. While the Horned Frogs routinely beat teams ranked between 12 and 20 this season, they weren’t able to defeat a single team ranked 11 or higher all season. For that reason, this dual seems like a mere formality and I fully expect the Bruins to sweep the Horned Frogs, 3-0.
LMU & LSU
UCLA beat both of these teams during the regular season and there’s no reason that the Bruins shouldn’t go into the second day of the tournament undefeated. Though this dual probably won’t be a sweep.
NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships
When: Friday, May 7, 2021
Where: Gulf Beach Place, Gulf Shores, AL
Live Stream: WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app
Teams: #1 seed UCLA Bruins (28-3) vs. #8 seed TCU Horned Frogs (26-8)
Scheduled Time: 7:00 am PT
Live Stats: NCAA.com