USC advanced to the championship dual of the NCAA beach volleyball championship for the fourth time in the five years it has been held with a 3-1 victory over Loyola Marymount Saturday in the winner’s bracket final.
The second-seeded Trojans (29-4) will face the winner of Sunday’s UCLA-Loyola Marymount contender’s bracket final in the championship duel, set to start at 10:30 a.m. Sunday Pacific Daylight Time.
USC’s Julia Scoles and Sammy Slater were 24-22, 21-14 winners over Selina Marolf and Reka Orsi Toth on Court 2 in the first match to be decided.
The fifth-seeded Lions (31-7) got their only victory of the duel when their Jessie Prichard and Savannah Slattery defeated Haley Hallgren and Hailey Harward, 22-20, 21-19, on Court 3.
The Trojans took a 2-1 lead when twins Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse defeated Emma Doud and Madi Firnett, 21-18, 21-19, on Court 5. USC clinched the match seconds later when Tina Graudina and Megan Kraft completed a 21-14, 21-18 victory over Iya Lindahl and Megan Rice on Court 1.
The other match was tied when play was suspended. USC’s Joy Dennis and Delaynie Maple defeated LMU’s Darby Dunn and Jacinda Ramirez, 27-25, in the first set on Court 4, but lost the second, 24-22. The score was tied, 7-7, was play was suspended.
The Trojans are 23-0 against the Lions, including a 4-1 victory April 16.
USC was the 2016 and 2017 champion, runner-up to UCLA in 2019 and lost to the eventual champion Bruins in a consolation semifinal in 2018.
Top-seeded UCLA advanced to the 2021 elimination bracket final with a 3-2 victory over fourth-seeded LSU Saturday, winning the final two matches to be decided.
Lindsey Sparks served an ace on Court 3 to give her and partner Abby Van Winkle a 23-21, 21-18 victory over Ashlyn Rasnick-Pope and Toni Rodriguez, tying the match, 2-2.
The Bruins (31-4) completed their comeback when freshmen Rileigh Powers and Jaden Whitmarsh defeated seniors Olivia Ordonez and Kahlee York on Court 5, 15-21, 21-19, 15-12, with Whitmarsh serving an ace on the dual-clinching point.
UCLA also got a 21-19, 21-13 victory from junior Lea Monkhouse and freshman Devon Newberry over senior Claire Coppola and junior Kelli Greene-Agnew on Court 2.
The Tigers (27-8) tied the score 1-1 when sophomore Sydney Moore and graduate student Jess Lansman defeated junior Megan Muret and graduate student Jacqueline Quade, 21-15, 21-17 on Court 4.
LSU took a 2-1 lead when seniors Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth defeated gradate student Savvy Simo and freshman Lexy Denaburg, 23-21, 23-21 on Court 1.
Nuss is the winningest player in the history of college beach volleyball with 139 victories. Nuss and Kloth completed the season 36-0, tying the best record by an undefeated pair on Court 1. Kelly Claes and Sarah Hughes were 36-0 for USC in 2016.
The Bruins defeated seventh-seeded Cal Poly, 3-0, in an elimination bracket duel earlier Saturday.
Muret and Quade got UCLA’s first point with a 21-16, 21-19 victory over Sam Strah and Eleonore Johansen on Court 4. Monkhouse and Newberry were 22-20, 21-17 winners over Amy Ozee and Jayelin Lombard on Court 2.
Powers and Whitmarsh clinched the match for the Bruins with a 21-19, 21-19 victory over Josie Ulrich and Vanessa Roscoe on Court 5.
UCLA is 9-0 against the Mustangs, including a 5-0 victory April 17 and a 3-2 win April 22.
The Lions-Bruins match is a rematch of LMU’s 3-2 victory Friday ending a 12-match losing streak to UCLA that began in 2015. It is set to begin at 7 a.m. PDT.
Loyola Marymount is playing in the NCAA beach volleyball championship for the first time. The championship has been held annually since 2016, except in 2020 when it was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Each edition of the championship has been held in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Both of Sunday’s matches will be televised by ESPN2. Live streams from individual courts will be available on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
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