Top-seeded UCLA will take on fifth-seeded Loyola Marymount Sunday for the right to meet USC in the championship dual of the NCAA beach volleyball championship.
The Bruins advanced to the elimination bracket final with a 3-2 victory over fourth-seeded LSU Saturday in the modified double-elimination tournament at Gulf Shores, Alabama, winning the final two matches to be decided.
The Lions lost to USC, 3-1, in the winner’s bracket final Saturday.
The UCLA-LMU match is a rematch of the Lions’ 3-2 victory Friday that ended a 12-match losing streak to the Bruins that began in 2015. It is set to begin at 7 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.
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.
UCLA (31-4) completed its comeback over the Tigers 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.
The Bruins tied the match, 2-2, when Lindsey Sparks and Abby Van Winkle defeated Ashlyn Rasnick-Pope and Toni Rodriguez, 23-21, 21-18, on Court 3.
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 second match to be completed.
The Tigers (27-8) got their first point 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 graduate 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 victory over LMU advanced USC to the championship dual of the NCAA beach volleyball championship for the fourth time in the five years it has been held.
The second-seeded Trojans (29-4) took a 1-0 lead when Julia Scoles and Sammy Slater were 24-22, 21-14 winners over Selina Marolf and Reka Orsi Toth on Court 2.
The 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.
Twins Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse defeated Emma Doud and Madi Firnett, 21-18, 21-19, on Court 5 to give USC a 2-1 lead. The Trojans 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.
The championship duel is set to start at 10:30 a.m. PDT. Both of Sunday’s matches will be televised by ESPN2. Live streams from individual courts will be available on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
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.
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