Wednesday, 7 June 2023

NCAA Beach Volleyball

No. 1 UCLA Sweeps Three Top 10 Teams to Win Pac-12 Title

No. 1 UCLA Sweeps Three Top 10 Teams to Win Pac-12 Title

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STANFORD, Calif. — No. 1 UCLA (37-3) came all the way back through the contender’s bracket with three straight 3-0 sweeps of No. 3 USC (28-5), No. 8 Stanford (28-12) and No. 9 California (28-9) on Friday to capture its third Pac-12 Conference Championship at Stanford’s Beach Volleyball Stadium. The Bruins improved to 17-22 all-time against the Trojans, 20-1 against the Cardinal, and 13-0 against the Golden Bears. UCLA earned its 21st-23rd sweep of the year, which ties for the most in program history, which was established by the NCAA Championship team of 2019.

Up first on the day was the crosstown showdown with No. 3 USC. The Bruins jumped out to a 2-0 lead courtesy of straight-set wins on courts two and four against the Trojans. Peri Brennan and Abby Van Winkle defeated Madison Shields and Madison White on court two, 21-15, 21-9, and Marlie Monserez and Jessie Smith defeated Ashlyn Rasnick-Pope and Bailey Showalter, 21-18, 21-7.

Each of the last three courts went to a third set with Devon Newberry and Jaden Whitmarsh clinching the dual on court five over USC’s Olivia Bakos and Gabby Walker, 21-11, 19-21, 15-12, to eliminate the Trojans. It was the first time in the seven-year history of the Pac-12 Championship that USC, the two-time defending NCAA Champion, didn’t make the finals.

The next dual for the Bruins was the revenge match with No. 8 Stanford in the contender’s bracket final. The Cardinal sent the Bruins to the contender’s bracket with a 3-2 win, their first in 20 tries against UCLA, on day one of the Championship. But this day would belong to the Bruins. UCLA would again jump out to a 2-0 lead with Brennan and Van Winkle defeating Charlie Ekstrom and Maya Harvey 21-19, 21-17, on court two and Monserez and Smith defeating Kelly Belardi and Ashley Vincent, 21-13, 21-15, on court four.

Again the dual was decided on court five with Newberry and Whitmarsh clinching the victory with a 21-14, 21-14, win over Stanford’s Daria Gusarova and Taylor Wilson.

That set up the Championship bout against No. 9 California. With the Bruins reaching the finals for the sixth-straight time, it was clear that the Bruins’ experience was no match for the Golden Bears, who were making their first-ever appearance in the Championship…

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