Armando Carrillo, Daily Bruin contributor
The Bruins are looking to repeat back-to-back victories over the Trojans and the Waves – this time in windier conditions.
No. 3 UCLA beach volleyball (5-1) defeated No. 1 USC (4-2) and No. 5 Pepperdine (3-2) on Wednesday and will play them again Saturday at Zuma Beach in Malibu, California.
“With two great teams like this, it’s not easy to show up back to back and beat (them),” said coach Stein Metzger. “They’re going to make adjustments, they’re going to watch video and they’re going to play better the next time, so we’re just going to have to do the same.”
Junior Izzy Carey, who went 2-0 on Wednesday with freshman Megan Muret, said this will be the first time the team competes at a beach with a strong wind factor. Carey added the team has been preparing for windy conditions by practicing in Santa Monica about once a week.
“The wind (in Hawaii) was gusty, whereas Zuma is supposed to be like 20s this weekend,” Carey said. “It’ll be all about ball control, which we do pretty well as a team.”
Junior Nicole McNamara, who went 2-0 on Wednesday with junior Megan McNamara, said the team is still recovering from its trip to Hawaii and needs to focus on staying healthy in order to tackle the busy schedule ahead.
“I think just serve and pass is going to win,” Nicole McNamara said. “Focusing on our ball control and putting in tough serves (will help too).”
Metzger added the Bruins need to continue working on communication, but their performance Wednesday was a step in the right direction.
“I expect to have a target on our back,” Metzger said. “They’re going to want blood and redemption, so we’re going to have to be ready for that and fight fire with fire.”
Dylan D’Souza, Daily Bruin contributor
Redshirt sophomore Jada Hart watched intently from the first row as the UCLA men’s tennis team defeated USC on Tuesday.
She knew she would be part of the crosstown rivalry in three days, as No. 9 UCLA women’s tennis (8-2) travels 11 miles to challenge No. 32 USC (7-2).
“The boys had great energy throughout,” Hart said. “The atmosphere was great and it’s important we maintain that level of energy and competitiveness.”
While it is a big match, coach Stella Sampras Webster has attempted to keep the preparations the same. The team made the short trip to USC on Wednesday to practice on its surfaces and get acclimated to the environment.
The teams competed twice last year. Both games came down to a final match with each team taking one. Six of the 12 singles matches from the two combined games went to three sets.
Hart and Sampras Webster have also given some advice to players new to the rivalry – No. 40 freshman Abi Altick and junior Ayan Broomfield.
“There have been crazy instances where we’ve lost all first sets in singles and then won the game,” Sampras Webster said. “It’s important to stay the course. If the crowd gets out of control, the players can let the umpires know.”
No. 38 duo of Hart and senior Terri Fleming will have a chance to avenge their 6-0 whitewash on court one last season. Both players also had three-set matches in singles in the two matchups last year.
Despite the intensity behind the rivalry, there is a sense of camaraderie between the two teams.
“I know the entire USC team,” Hart said. “The majority of them are from Southern California so I grew up training with them. We have a lot of respect for each other.”
These will be the last games the Bruins partake in before commencing conference play against No. 40 Stanford next March 9.
Nicholas Yekikian, assistant Sports editor
No. 3 UCLA softball (15-0) starts its fourth consecutive five-game weekend tournament Friday.
This time, UCLA will head south to the San Diego Classic I to face UCF (9-7), No. 21 Minnesota (10-4), San Diego (9-9), Santa Clara (0-10) and San Diego State (7-10).
Though just one of the teams UCLA will face this weekend is ranked, ranked opponents have not given the Bruins the most trouble so far this year, as the Bruins mercied the No. 10 LSU Lions 9-1 on Feb. 24.
Liberty and Grand Canyon have come the closest to putting a blemish on the team’s still-spotless record. The two teams both scored first against UCLA and would go on to fall to the Bruins by just one run.
“The game of softball doesn’t care who is supposed to win,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “You don’t get any more runs because you’re ranked higher. … Everyone is kind of sky high when they’re playing us.”
On paper, the 10-4 Gophers present the biggest challenge to the Bruins this weekend. Minnesota has put up three shutout wins and has outscored its opponents 69 to 33. The Bruins’ offense, meanwhile, has outscored opponents by an even greater margin, driving in 112 runs and allowing just 19 to this point.
Inouye-Perez said that, though this early part of the season was a grind, she and her team welcomes the challenge the slew of weekend games brings.
Nicholas Yekikian, assistant Sports editor
The UCLA rowing team will kick off its 2018 season this weekend in Marina del Rey, California, and will face Stanford and San Diego State.
As it is with every sport, the competition from Stanford will no doubt be stiff, as it ended last year with the country’s second-best varsity eight boat and graduated just six seniors.
That said, the Bruins have some prestigious rowers lining their roster this year. Juniors Saskia Budgett and Kyra Edwards will row for the Bruins this weekend. Last year, the duo helped Great Britain to a gold-medal finish in the World Rowing U23 Championships quadruple sculls boat.
The Bruins will race a novice crew of eight, three varsity eight boats and two varsity four boats at this weekend’s opening meet.
Though rankings for this year have not yet been established, last year the Bruins were ranked sixth overall in the NCAA west region.
Specifically, they finished the season sixth in the first varsity eight, fifth in the second varsity eight and sixth in the varsity four in the fifth national region, according to NCAA.com.
Jack Kearns, Daily Bruin contributor
After starting the season 7-1, No. 11 UCLA baseball will travel to Minneapolis to play Illinois (3-3) on Friday, Michigan State (2-5) on Saturday and Minnesota (7-2) on Sunday in the DQ Classic/Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Challenge.
The tournament will take place at U.S. Bank Stadium, the new Minnesota Vikings football stadium. The indoor stadium has a seating capacity of about 70,000, but parts of the stands will be reduced to accommodate for the outfield of the all-turf temporary baseball field.
It’s the beginning of an eight-game stretch against eight different teams for the Bruins.
“You’re preparing for them as if you would play them three times,” said coach John Savage following Wednesday’s exhibition game against NC Dinos. “But you’re playing them once, and then you have to move on to the next team. It’s a lot of opponents, it’s a lot of (scouting), a lot of video.”
Of the three teams, Minnesota has had the most recent success in the Big Ten conference. The Gophers won the Big Ten regular-season title in 2016 and came within one game of winning last season, finishing 2017 with a 36-21 record. It returns its top four hitters from last season.
Savage will employ the same starting pitching rotation, with senior Jake Bird on Friday, junior Jon Olsen on Saturday and freshman Zach Pettway on Sunday.
The tournament comes one week before UCLA will play in the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic, where it will face two top-15 teams in No. 12 Vanderbilt and No. 6 TCU, and crosstown rival USC.
“Three different teams in three different days,” Savage said. “But that’s what we signed up for and next weekend’s a very similar situation with Vandy, TCU and USC. It’s good for college baseball.”