GULF SHORES, Ala. — The Bruins were dancing on tables at the NCAA banquet Thursday – and they’re still dancing.
No. 2 seed UCLA beach volleyball (34-3) swept No. 5 seed LSU (31-7) 3-0 on Saturday morning to advance to Sunday’s NCAA championship final. The Bruins put up all three dual points within 90 seconds of each other.
“There’s so much excitement and emotion and media and big screens and everything here that you don’t see in a normal tournament,” said coach Stein Metzger. “Each game (the players) have gotten better and better at staying focused on their court alone…and we did that best by far (today) and I thought we played our best.”
UCLA took the first sets on all five courts, and went on to take three courts in straight sets. The Bruin pairs on courts one and four were ahead when UCLA clinched the dual.
Senior Zana Muno and freshman Abby Van Winkle scored first for UCLA, winning 21-15, 21-12 on court three.
Senior Sarah Sponcil and junior Lily Justine put the Bruins up 2-0 with a straight set victory. A cross-court kill to the right by Justine gave the pair its first win of the weekend.
“I’m just really proud of (Justine) and I personally, because we were kind of struggling (yesterday),” Sponcil said. “It just seems like we’re running on all cylinders right now.”
The court five match decided the dual for the second consecutive time. Senior Izzy Carey and freshman Lindsey Sparks clinched the victory for UCLA with a 21-8, 21-18 win after the duo clinched for the Bruins against Florida State on Friday.
“We don’t call (Carey and Sparks) ‘team textbook’ for nothing,” Metzger said. “They’re total students of the game and they’re extremely disciplined. As it gets windier out here, I think that makes them better because they are so disciplined with their ball control.”
Seniors Nicole and Megan McNamara are 4-0 all time against the Tiger’s court one pair – Claire Coppola and Kristen Nuss – but were unable to finish in Saturday’s match.
The match between juniors Savvy Simo and Madi Yeomans and LSU’s Maddie Ligon and Olivia Beyer was also suspended with the Bruins ahead 21-16, 20-15. Simo and sophomore transfer Lea Monkhouse – UCLA’s usual court four pair – were 0-2 against LSU this season.
“Me and (Yeomans) are really just going off right now,” Simo said. “Our big thing is just staying patient because in a lot of the sets we’ve played, we’ve been down to start.”
The Bruins will face the winner of the elimination bracket – either No.1 seed USC, No. 7 seed Hawai’i or LSU – in Sunday’s final at 11:00 a.m.