#2 UCLA Beach Volleyball (26-3)
Opponent 1: Washington (7-5)
When: 10:00 AM PT, Thursday, April 27, 2017
Opponent 2 (if UCLA defeats Washington): #8 Arizona (15-8) OR California (13-10)
When: 5:00 PM PT, Thursday, April 27, 2017
Where: Arizona Sand Volleyball Courts, Tucson, AZ
Less than a week after suffering a tough setback against the #1 Trojans, the Bruins begin the Pac-12 Tournament today with all signs pointing to a showdown with Southern Cal in tomorrow's championship match.
First, though, UCLA has to get past the Huskies in an opening round match this morning. The Bruins are the tournament second-seed, while the Huskies earned the seventh-seed. If the Bruins beat the Huskies, they'll face the winner of third-seeded Arizona vs. sixth-seeded California; if they lose, they'll drop into the Contenders Bracket to face the loser of eighth-seeded Utah against ninth-seeded Oregon.
The full bracket for the team portion of the tournament is available on the official site.
As their records indicate, UCLA (26-3) has played a LOT more beach volleyball matches than Washington (7-5) this season. The two squads met earlier this month in the Battle at the Beach in Santa Monica where the Bruins earned a comfortable 4-1 victory. UCLA won in straight sets on every court except court 2; senior Kamila Tan and freshman Madi Yeomans didn't put together one of their better efforts that day, and although their performance may have been affected by the strong winds that day, it was a matchup that I expect them to win today.
In all likelihood, UCLA's second match today will be against the third-seeded Wildcats. Along with USC and UCLA, Arizona is a top-10 team nationally, and like the Bruins and the Trojans, has spent the regular season competing against some of the best teams in the country.
The Wildcats were also at the Battle at the Beach, and they didn't fare much better than the Huskies against UCLA. The Bruins beat Arizona 4-1 on Senior Day for what at that time was their 23rd straight dual victory. The Bruins won in straight sets on three of the top four courts, and the only loss came on court 5 in a three-set nail-biter.
Assuming that UCLA's and Southern Cal's first and second round matches play out as expected, the Bruins and Trojans will play first thing tomorrow morning with the winner advancing directly to the championship match while the loser drops down into the contenders bracket to fight for a place in the final.
The Pac-12 Network is televising Day 1 of the tournament, which will give beach volleyball fans a rare opportunity to watch from home some of the nation's best collegiate teams. Given the quality of Coach Metzger's squad this season, UCLA fans should be able to watch the Bruins in action throughout the weekend.