The NCAA beach volleyball tournament gets underway Friday in Alabama where UCLA will compete against the top teams in the country for a national championship.
On Sunday, the NCAA revealed the eight-team field from the 65 qualifying teams across the country.
UCLA (29-4) was selected as the No. 2 seed overall behind defending national champion and Pac-12 rival USC (34-1).
“Our goal is to win the national championship,” said graduate student Kamila Tan, who was named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team on Thursday. “There is no doubt in my mind that we are good enough to win.”
The field is comprised of three teams from both the West and East regions as well as two at-large bid teams that will battle in a double-elimination style tournament.
The West Region claimed the top three seeds overall with No. 1 USC followed by UCLA and No. 3 Pepperdine.
Florida State was the top seed from the East Region at No. 4, followed by No. 5 Hawaii and No. 6 Long Beach State, both at-large selections.
LSU and South Carolina round up the remaining field at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, representing the East Region.
The Bruins will be familiar with any possible opponent, having played everyone in the tournament this year besides South Carolina and Hawaii.
The team owns a combined record of 6-4 against teams in the tournament, including a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over its first round opponent LSU.
LSU (26-6) struggled early in the season, starting 2-5 before going on to win 24 consecutive matches en route to its first NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Tigers come into the tournament having amassed their highest win total in a regular season, 26, to go along with their highest ranking at No. 7.
LSU is led by Coastal Collegiate Sports Association All-Conference team freshman duo Claire Coppola and Kristen Nuss, who led the team in wins with 26, including a victory over the tandem of Tan and freshman Madi Yeomans 21-17, 21-17.
“LSU is going to be tough to beat. They aren’t to be taken for granted even if we did beat them earlier in the season,” Tan said. “We expect LSU to start off playing well but we’ll be on top of our game. … We’ll do our best to come out on top.”
Last year, UCLA entered the tournament as a fourth seed, losing to fifth-seeded Hawaii before going on to win three consecutive matches in the loser’s bracket.
The team would suffer its second defeat in the semifinal against Florida State, ending its season in third place.
The Bruins, though, aspire for more, having performed well throughout the year.
USC’s lone loss this year, at the hands of UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament, snapped a 62-game winning streak for the women of Troy, while Florida State lost twice to the blue and gold.
The prevailing thought within the program is that the Bruins will legitimately compete for the university’s 114th national championship Sunday in Alabama.
“No matter the outcome, I’m grateful for this team and the program,” Tan said. “A national championship would be the ultimate cherry on the top to go along with the other accomplishments we’ve had this year.”