#2 UCLA Beach Volleyball (25-2)
Opponent 1: #20 Cal Poly (12-19)
When: 11:00 AM PT, Saturday, April 22, 2017
Opponent 2: #1 Southern Cal (28-0)
When: 3:00 PM PT, Saturday, April 22, 2017
Where: Merle Norman Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
In what may very well turn out to be a preview of the national championship match next month, the second-ranked Bruins will battle the top-ranked and undefeated Trojans at Merle Norman Stadium this afternoon.
First, however, UCLA will play #20 Cal Poly in the first match of the day. The Bruins and Mustangs have already tangled twice this season with the Bruins earning 4-1 victories on both occasions. In the first meeting on the opening day of the season, UCLA enjoyed straight sets wins from the top four pairs while dropping a tight match on court 5. In the rematch a couple of weeks ago, the Bruins inexplicably dropped a point on court 2 where senior Kamila Tan and freshman Madi Yeomans narrowly lost to Cal Poly's Adlee Van Winden and Taylor Nelson.
Unless things go terribly wrong for Coach Metzger's squad, the opening contest against the Mustangs should be nothing more than a good warm up for the mid-afternoon showdown with Southern Cal. The Bruins will have to wait for USC and Cal Poly to finish their dual first, though, and in my opinion, that gives the Trojans a distinct advantage in the nightcap.
The Trojans certainly don't need any advantages, though. As the reigning national champions and holders of a perfect 28-0 record, Southern Cal is well-deserving of its #1 national ranking. USC has to be considered a heavy favorite to defend its title in 2017.
Both the Bruins and Trojans are putting impressive winning streaks on the line today. UCLA has won 23 straight matches since losing to Southern Cal in the first week of March. That streak is dwarfed by USC's 56-dual match winning streak that dates back to March 11, 2016, however.
Only two teams have really tested Southern Cal this season: #4 Florida State and UCLA. The Bruins managed to win on two of the five courts against the Trojans back in early March, and there's reason to believe that UCLA might be able to improve on that performance this time around. The Bruins lineup is features a lot of underclassmen, including four freshmen. The young Bruins have shown considerable improvement since the beginning of the season and the experience of playing most of the best teams in the country for the past seven weeks will hopefully pay dividends today.
Go BRUINS! Beat SC!