Yesterday afternoon, the UCLA beach volleyball team took their second step towards defending last year’s national championship when the Bruins defeated last year’s runner-up, the Florida State Seminoles, 3-0. The win keeps UCLA in the winner’s bracket for today’s action.
As the dual started, there was some bad news for the Bruins. Lea Monkhouse was not feeling well after the dual against Hawai’i and had to be taken to the hospital. In her place, Madi Yeomans was paired with Savvy Simo on court four.
As play began, it looked like that pairing wasn’t going to work well for the Bruins as Yeomans and Simo dropped their first set, 13-21.
Meanwhile, Zana Muno and Abby Van Winkle won their first set on court three and Lily Justine and Sarah Sponcil lost their first set on court two. On court five, Izzy Carey and Lindsey Sparks opened by winning their first set, but the McNamara twins dropped their first set on court one.
Things only got better for the Bruins from there.
As it turned out, in set two, the pairs which won the first set lost the second set, forcing a third set on all five courts. So, Yeomans and Simo won their second set, 21-19 on court four and the McNamaras won on court one, 21-19. Carey and Sparks lost their second set, 18-21. Over on court two, Justine and Sponcil won their second set while Muno and Van Winkle lost their second set on court three.
In set three, Yeomans and Simo, which looked like a bad pairing after the first set, managed to become the first duo to win their pairing when they won set three, 15-12, to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead for the dual.
The McNamaras made quick work of their third set on court one and defeated their opponents, 15-7, to give UCLA a 2-0 lead. At this point, UCLA only needed to win on one of the remaining three courts to win the dual.
And, they got that win over on court five when Carey and Sparks finished their third set with a 15-13 win. That gave the Bruins a 3-0 win for the dual allowing UCLA to advance to this morning’s winner’s bracket semifinal against LSU.
Earlier in the afternoon, the LSU Tigers had beaten Pepperdine, 3-0, and Stetson, 3-2, to send the Tigers into this morning’s dual against the Bruins.
UCLA should be familiar with today’s opponent since the Bruins defeated LSU twice during the regular season by a 4-1 margin both times. UCLA also defeated the Tigers, 3-0, in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
In fact, the Bruins have never lost to LSU and lead the series, 6-0, which includes two meetings in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments.
All of that said, LSU seems to be a team that is pumped to play in this year’s tournament. The Tigers will be looking to build on yesterday’s success with a win today.
If the Bruins can manage to win today’s dual against the Tigers, UCLA will earn the right to defend last year’s national championship. If the Bruins should lose, then they will fall into the elimination bracket and have to play in another dual before tomorrow’s national championship game for the right to play for the title.
UCLA looked flat yesterday against Hawai’i and needed to come from behind to stay in the winner’s bracket. Even the dual against Florida State was tough with all five courts going to three sets, but that was to be expected from the Seminoles.
To win today, UCLA needs to keep LSU from gaining much momentum. If the Bruins can win a court or two in just two sets, it would go a long way towards a berth in tomorrow’s championship game. If UCLA has to go to three sets on five courts, the Bruins may find themselves needing two wins tomorrow to win the title.
Dual #11 was originally scheduled to be played this afternoon, but, due to potential bad weather in the Gulf Shores area, all of today’s game times have been changed. So, if you’re DVRing today’s game, you will need to manually adjust your recording time.
Of course, it’s worth noting that this wouldn’t be an issue if the NCAA played the Beach Volleyball Tournament in Southern California, or at least alternated between Gulf Shores and the West Coast.
This is your UCLA Bruins vs. LSU Tigers NCAA Beach Volleyball Tournament open thread.
Go Bruins!!! Bring home NC #117!!!