Around the League: Tennis, volleyball, baseball and softball primed for season’s end
UCLA men’s volleyball received a bye in the NCAA Tournament for being the No. 2 seed. (Hannah Ye/Assistant Photo editor)
The No. 2 seed UCLA men’s volleyball team has the first round of the NCAA Tournament off.
UCLA will play Thursday at Penn State, against No. 3 seed Ohio State.
The Bruins soundly defeated both of these teams early on in the season. Since then, however, the Buckeyes have only lost one more match and won 27.
The winner of Thursday’s match will go to the NCAA championship Saturday night to face the winner of BYU and Long Beach State.
UCLA women’s tennis will travel to Columbus, Ohio, for the first two rounds of the tournament to face off against Notre Dame. If the women win, they will likely play No. 4 seed Ohio State.
This was to be expected as the Bruins failed to reach a top-16 ranking by the season’s ending, eliminating their chances of hosting the first two rounds of the tournament. This is is the first time in the last decade the women’s team has not hosted the first two rounds.
The women of UCLA’s beach volleyball will head off to the inaugural 2016 National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship, even after a disappointing loss to the No. 6 Arizona Wildcats in the Pac-12 beach volleyball championship.
Eight teams were fielded from the 60 NCAA institutions that sponsor the sport.
Garnering a No. 4 seed, UCLA will take on the No. 5 seed Hawai’i – which received an at-large bid to the tournament. If the Bruins are able to advance, they will play the winner of the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles and No. 8 seed Stetson Hatters matchup.
What makes this tournament especially interesting is that there’s an elimination bracket. But this bracket isn’t a consolation prize: The winner of the elimination rounds will make it all the way to the championship round, facing the winner of the normal bracket.
Essentially this gives teams a “second chance” to become the first NCAA beach volleyball champion.
Ranked 14th in the country by USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association and 15th in RPI, UCLA softball is well on its way to hosting a regional. If not for a little bit of a shaky start, the Bruins probably could have been in contention to host a super regional as well – generally the top-eight teams host.
UCLA is also safely second in the Pac-12. The only way to win the regular season title is if Oregon gets swept by Cal this upcoming weekend. The Bruins are peaking at the right time and are primed to make a good run to reach the Women’s College World Series again.
When asked to describe the Pac-12 race this year, UCLA coach John Savage has consistently used one word: parity. No team has been able to run away with the conference, as the top ten teams are all separated by just 3 1/2 games.
Conference-leading Utah has held onto first place for much of the season, despite a 16-22 overall record. Oregon State – D1Baseball.com‘s preseason front-runner – is in third place, only half a game back.
With four weekends of conference play left before the NCAA Regionals, virtually any of the top-10 teams could get hot and make a push for the Pac-12 championship.
The draw is out, and men’s tennis is not the No. 2 overall seed like expected. To much surprise, the NCAA selection took in account the North Carolina’s head-to-head win over UCLA, hence giving the Tar Heels the second seed. This dropped the Bruins to No. 3.
In its first round, UCLA will play host to Weber State, and the winner of that will play the winner of University of San Diego and Vanderbilt’s dual match. On UCLA’s side of the draw is No. 6 seed Wake Forest, the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament winner and one of the few teams to have dethroned UNC, and No. 1 overall seed Virginia, for a potential quarterfinal dual match.
The Bruins finished the season 22-2, taking home the Pac-12 regular season title and the Pac-12 tournament title.