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Beach Volleyball Opens Season With Doubleheader

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The UCLA Bruins beach volleyball team will face Cal State Bakersfield and Cal Poly this Thursday.

2017 UCLA Beach Volleyball @UCLABeachVB

For the second year in the Pac 12, UCLA beach volleyball will open play this Thursday with a doubleheader at the Pismo Beach courts against Cal State Bakersfield at 11:00 am/PT and Cal Poly at 1:00 pm/PT. The Bruins enter the 2017 season ranked 3rd in the AVCA Preseason Poll and 2nd in the DiG Magazine Women's Beach Volleyball Preseason Poll, the highest preseason rankings for the Bruins in school history.

UCLA will face stiff competition in the first two weeks of the season, taking on six top ranked opponents, including two top four ranked teams in the country.

Key Returners

The Bruins return 10 letterwinners from last year's squad that finished with a school record of 22-8, and finished third at the first-ever NCAA Championship in Gulf Shores, Ala. With seven newcomers (six freshmen and one junior), the Bruins have a balanced team heading into the season. They key for Head Coach Stein Metzger will be finding the right partnerships to make up for last year’s losses, including Jessyka Ngauamo.

After making a huge impact last year, sophomore twins Megan and Nicole McNamara became the most recent All-Americans at UCLA in the beach volleyball program. There are only eight All-Americans in the history of the AVCA, and they are the only all-freshman pair in the AVCA to earn the All-American nod. Additionally, the twins are recognized on the First Team All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 Beach Volleyball All-Tournament Team, and Megan was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. To cap off their season, they won bronze at the 2016 FIVB U-21 World Championships when they defeated USA's Sarah Sponcil (LMU) and Torrey Van Winden (UCLA), 18-21, 23-21, 15-10.

Graduate student Kamila Tan, who played most of the season with Ivy Schmitt, returns and was named Second Team All-Pac-12 and 2016 Second Team All-American by DiG Magazine. The pair went 17-12 overall last year.

Zana Muno returns after having a great indoor season and impressive freshman season on the beach. She closed last year 9-0 with partner Jessyka Ngauamo, and will more than likely resume her partnership with Reily Buechler in her absence. She was named Second Team All-Pac-12, Pac-12 All-Freshman Team, Pac-12 Beach Volleyball All-Tournament Team and 2016 NCAA All-Tournament Team. Additionally, UCLA will see junior Elise Zappia and sophomore Izzy Carey, who played the entire season together going 21-12.

Opponents

Cal State Bakersfield finished the season 4-14, and were 0-3 versus nationally ranked teams. Their strongest pair, Carol Grasso and Sydney Haynes, went 12-6 last year and will return to the sand again this year. The duo was selected first team All-Conference by the six Big West coaches May 3 of last year. Bakersfield is led by first year head coach Cesar Benatti, who was an assistant under Olivia Simko, who stepped down after coaching the Roadrunners for three seasons. Benatti is also an assistant for the indoor program.

In the wake of the most successful season for the Cal Poly beach volleyball program, sophomore Taylor Nelson and freshman Adlee Van Winden earned Big West Conference Beach Volleyball All-Conference First Team honors, while the sophomore duo of Savannah Niemen and Raeann Greisen earned second team honors back in May. The team made it to the semifinals in the first ever Big West Beach Volleyball Tournament, and was knocked off by eventual runner-up Cal State Long Beach. The team is led by first year coach and two-time Olympian Todd Rogers.

#3 UCLA

Opponent: CSU Bakersfield

Location: Pismo Beach Volleyball Courts

Date: Thursday, Mar. 2, 2017

Time: 11:00 a.m. (PT)

Opponent: Cal Poly (RV)

Location: Pismo Beach Volleyball Courts

Date: Thursday, Mar. 2, 2017

Time: 1:00 p.m. (PT)

Go Bruins!