It was an unseasonably blustery day at Sunset Recreation Center as UCLA beach volleyball took on the top team in the country, but the Canadian duo of Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara felt right at home.
“Who called up the icy conditions?” coach Stein Metzger said of the 60-degree weather. “It’s perfect for the Canadians.”
The No. 5 Bruins (10-4) upset the No. 1 Pepperdine Waves (11-1) Wednesday, coming from behind to topple the previously unbeaten powerhouse. Tied 2-2 heading into the final matchup, it came down to the McNamara sisters to seal UCLA’s 10th win of the season.
The freshmen handily defeated the team of Heidi Dyer and Taylor Racich 2-1 (21-15, 21-23, 15-8), remaining composed under the late-game pressure. Metzger said that the sisters had faced that kind of stress all season long as the team’s No. 1 pair, and they came out Wednesday ready to play.
“It’s been really tough coming in as freshmen at the one spot and playing against such amazing teams,” Megan McNamara said of her first win over a top-3 pair. “It’s been a really good learning experience though, and we’re happy to pull out the win against the (top-ranked) team in the country right now.”
The upset comes just four weeks after the Waves swept the Bruins 5-0 in the similarly blustery finale of the Pepperdine Kick Off tournament at Zuma Beach on March 6.
“When you’re playing on the beach, the conditions are a huge factor because the depth of the sand is different, the wind direction is different – elements played a huge role,” Metzger said. “We’ve improved since then, and I think we just generally played better today.”
Although the environment at the Sunset Recreational Center Wednesday was colder than Metzger might have liked, the home-court advantage played in UCLA’s favor.
The win marks the Bruins’ first over a top-ranked team – previous No. 1 USC also handed UCLA a 5-0 loss at the Pepperdine Kick Off. The Bruins board a plane to Hawai’i Thursday where they’ll again face elite competition in the Outrigger Beach Volleyball Challenge. Hawai’i is 9-5 and has lost just one home game all season.
While the team can bask in its upset for now, UCLA will likely face Pepperdine again during the postseason.
With contributing reports from Reed MacDonald, Daily Bruin contributor. Email Fahy at [email protected] or tweet her @clairemfahy.