Friday, February 21

McNamara twins help propel UCLA beach volleyball over top teams

UCLA beach volleyball jumped to No. 4 in the rankings after upsetting two top four opponents last week. Nicole McNamara (L) and Megan McNamara (R) won all three of their matchups and were named Conference Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

UCLA beach volleyball moved up a spot in national rankings this week after upsetting two top-four teams in four days.

The Bruins had yet to defeat a top-three team this season before taking down two of the nation’s top teams last weekend, an effort that made UCLA the fourth-ranked team in the country. UCLA toppled No. 1 Pepperdine Wednesday before defeating No. 4 Hawai’i in Honolulu on Saturday.

Both big victories were powered by the same two players – freshman phenom pair Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara. The rookies showcased experience and maturity – qualities not often associated with first-year players – as they secured both the Pepperdine and Hawai’i upsets by winning the No. 1 spot.

Against Hawai’i, the McNamaras drew on their experience breaking a 2-2 tie with Pepperdine three days earlier when coming from behind to beat Nikki Taylor and Lara Schreiber, 17-21, 21-16, 15-6.

The freshmen’s efforts over the past week were enough to catch the eye of the Pac-12, which named the duo Conference Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week. Coach Stein Metzger has asked a lot of the newcomers this season, with their No. 1 position meaning that they compete against veteran talent from other teams.

The McNamaras have risen above and beyond since being tapped to be the team’s top pair, completing a 3-0 sweep of competition last week with a 2-0 sweep over Arizona State on Saturday.

The Bruins have four regular season competitions remaining on the schedule before the Pac-12 championships, with the inaugural NCAA national championship looming in May.

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