College-beach volleyball’s “Power 2” were rocked by tumultuous upsets early in their conference tournaments, each seeing the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds shuttled to the contenders brackets early. But when the sand settled in the double-elimination tussles, the automatic bids to the NCAA Championship that go to tourney champions were won by the battle-weary favorites.
In the stacked Pac-12 event at Stanford that concluded Friday, top seed UCLA (37-3), ranked No. 1 in the AVCA poll, showed a champion’s mettle with a 3-0 victory over third-seeded California (28-9) in the final. The Bruins had been stunned 3-2 by fourth-seeded Stanford on the tournament’s first day. Second seed USC had joined its Los Angeles archrival in the contenders bracket when it dropped a 3-2 decision to the Golden Bears from Berkeley, who were ranked No. 9 nationally.
Meanwhile, in the loaded CCSA competition in Huntsville, Alabama, top-seeded TCU (35-2), the nation’s No. 2-ranked team. gained revenge against four seed Grand Canyon (26-7) by winning the championship dual 3-0 on Saturday afternoon. The seventh-ranked Lopes had bounced the Horned Frogs 3-0 on Thursday, and the CCSA bracket had been thrown into a further tizzy when third seed LSU knocked off second seed Florida State 3-1.
Four other league tournaments were contested, with No. 5 Loyola Marymount (23-8) winning the WCC, No. 14 Georgia State (20-16) taking the Sun Belt, No. 15 Florida Atlantic (19-13) capturing Conference USA and UT Martin (27-8) hoisting the trophy in the Ohio Valley. All earned automatic bids to the single-elimination Big Beach Dance that begins Wednesday and continues Friday through Sunday in Gulf Shores, Alabama. No. 10 Long Beach State (24-14) out of the Big West, No. 17 Stetson (22-14) from the Atlantic Sun and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (24-9) of the Southland already were AQs as conference championships.
The weekend saw only one mild upset outside of the Pac-12 and the CCSA — Florida Atlantic’s beating No. 12 Florida International (19-16) in the C-USA final — but it featured an abundance of surprises in the “Power 2.” That likely gave the NCAA selection committee clarity in the lower half of the 17-team bracket, but it could create some shuffling from 3 through 8.
The committee will huddle on Sunday morning and pairings will be announced at 11 a.m. Eastern…
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