Thursday, 18 April 2024

International Volleyball

NCAA beach volleyball: UCLA, USC roll on; Cal Poly continues its resurgence

NCAA beach volleyball: UCLA, USC roll on; Cal Poly continues its resurgence

Maggie Boyd watches UCLA teammate Lexy Denaburg make the save against Long Beach/Will Chu Photography

The second weekend of the NCAA beach volleyball season was far less elucidating than a tumultuous opening go-round, but some clarity nonetheless emerged.

After going 4-3 in Hawaii, but winning the championship-bracket duals that counted the most, UCLA (8-4) solidified its standing by taking down ranked opponents CalLong Beach StateWashington and Cal Poly on its home sand at Mapes Beach during the massive Battle for Los Angeles.

Remaining at No. 1 in the latest weekly AVCA coaches poll released Tuesday, the Bruins won 17 of the 20 matches. Their top duo of All-Americans Maggie Boyd and Lexy Denaburg got back on track with four victories, earning them the AVCA national and Pac-12 pair of the week awards.

No. 3 USC (8-2), competing on campus at Merle Norman Stadium, blanked Long Beach State, Grand Canyon and Division-II Concordia-Irvine, but got a tussle from Cal Poly during a 3-2 victory in which three of the five matches went to the tiebreaker.

Coach Dain Blanton tinkered with the three-time defending national champion Women of Troy’s lineup on the lower courts, but All-Americans Megan Kraft and Delaynie Maple swept their four matches at the 1s by a dominating margin of 168-109.

Kate Stoughton of Long Beach dives for a ball against UCLA/Will Chu Photography

The only host school to hit a speedbump during the Battle for LA was sixth-ranked Loyola Marymount (5-4), playing on its new campus courts. The Lions handled Washington, Grand Canyon and Concordia, but were clawed 4-1 by the Cal Bears, with all but top pair Valma Prihti and Michelle Shaffer (7-2 on the season, losing only to Kraft-Maple) going down to defeat. Prihti and Schaffer were tabbed by the West Coast Conference as its pair of the week.

What was made clear during the big shindig in Southern California was that Coach Todd Rogers has his Cal Poly program pointed in a winning direction again after an uncharacteristic 15-25 record in 2023.

The Mustangs (6-2) knocked off top-15 teams in Cal (by a 3-2 score) and Grand Canyon (winning on four out of five courts), suffered the aforementioned 3-2 defeat to USC and took a match against UCLA, all of which moved them from No. 18 to No. 11 on the AVCA list.

A return to SoCal sand seemingly lit a fire under UCLA transfer Lindsey Sparks, a key contributor on hugely successful Bruins teams (including an NCAA champion in 2019 and national runner-up in…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at…