NCAA Tournament Losers Bracket Semifinals
#4 UCLA Beach Volleyball (20-7)
Opponent: #3 Pepperdine (20-4)
When: 12:10 PM PDT, Saturday, May 7, 2016
Where: Gulf Shores, AL
Video: NCAA Live Video
Live Stats: None
One more loss and the Bruins' season is over. After yesterday's opening round loss to Hawai'i, UCLA's path to the NCAA Championship took a detour to the tournament's losers bracket. The road to the final is a lot treacherous now--to win the national championship, the Bruins have to successfully navigate a series of single-elimination matches. With elite opponents like #3 Pepperdine blocking the way, it's going to be a very difficult task.
UCLA has only itself to blame for its predicament. After defeating Hawai'i twice during the regular season, the Bruins folded quickly against the Rainbow Wahine. It started on court 3, where Izzy Carey & Elise Zappia fell in straight sets, 20-22, 14-21. Not long after, Julie Consani and Reily Buechler also lost in straight sets, 18-21, 18-21. Although the McNamara twins and the duo of Zana Muno and Jessyka Ngauamo were leading on their courts, Hawai'i sealed their victory with a straight set win on court 2 over UCLA's pair of Kamila Tan and Ivey Schmitt.
It was a disastrous start to the tournament for Coach Metzger's team. The Bruins had little time to regroup before facing Stetson in the first round of losers bracket elimination matches.
Although the Bruins survived, there was nothing about the match that was easy.
UCLA's first point came on court 5 when Buechler/Consani swept Stetson's #5 pair, 21-16, 21-14. Stetson then evened the match on court 3, with Carey/Zappia losing 17-21, 20-22. Nicole and Megan McNamara earned UCLA's second point with a 21-15, 21-18 win on the top court, but Stetson struck back with a 21-18, 21-19 win on court 2 against the Bruins' duo of Tan/Schmitt. The Bruins claimed the third point and the match on court 4 where Muno/Ngauamo battled for three sets to earn a 21-14, 12-21, 15-12 victory.
Needless to say, UCLA will have to play a lot better to beat the Waves. Pepperdine advanced to the winner's bracket semifinals with an opening round 3-1 win over a solid Arizona team. Against #1 Southern Cal in the next round, the Waves crashed--USC swept Pepperdine, sending the Waves to the losers bracket.
UCLA and Pepperdine have played twice previously this season. On the second day of the Pepperdine Kick Off Tournament in the first week of March, the Waves spanked the Bruins, 5-0. However, the Bruins got their revenge at the end of March with a 3-2 upset of the then top-ranked Waves.
If the Bruins can tame the Waves, they will face the winner of Arizona and Hawai'i at 2:00 PM PDT. UCLA has a lot of experience and a good track record against both the Wildcats and the Rainbow Wahine, but the Bruins have to eliminate Pepperdine first.