Wednesday, January 29

Beach volleyball maintains No. 1 ranking after trouncing LMU, USC in doubleheader

Senior Megan McNamara earned her 100th career victory in a win over USC on court one Wednesday afternoon, helping the Bruins to defeat the Trojans and remain undefeated. (Alice Naland/Daily Bruin)

The Bruins are still number one.

No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball (23-0) preserved its perfect record with a doubleheader at home Wednesday. UCLA defeated both No. 13 Loyola Marymount (17-8) and No. 2 USC (16-4) 4-1.

“We have a long way to go, but I think this was a good litmus test of where we’re at – especially in our ones and threes positions,” said coach Stein Metzger. “Those are two spots that only have one loss on the year each, from USC, so to be able to beat them there was a good sign.”

The win was the first time in program history that UCLA has defeated USC 4-1.

“It always feels good to beat USC, especially at home in front of all our family and friends,” said senior Megan McNamara. “I just think we can feel really confident going into the postseason that we can beat anyone and we have what it takes.”

The first flight of matches against the Trojans included courts two and four. Senior Sarah Sponcil and junior Lily Justine prevailed, overcoming Terese Cannon and Sammy Slater 21-18, 21-15, and earning Sponcil her 100th career win.

The Bruins also took the court four match 21-12, 21-14 to give UCLA a 2-0 dual lead.

In the second flight, seniors Nicole and Megan McNamara – the Pac-12 and AVCA/CollegeVB Pair of the Week – defeated USC’s Abril Bustamante and Tina Graudina 21-10, 21-19 on court one to clinch the dual for the Bruins.

The match was the McNamaras’ 16th consecutive straight set win and marked Megan McNamara’s 100th career win.

The McNamaras suffered their only loss of the season to Bustamante and Graudina in the prior meeting with the Trojans.

“I don’t think the twins have ever lost to anybody twice,” Metzger said. “Their ability to beat somebody after being beat is incredible. … They take it personally when they lose, so they put a lot of focus and effort and usually come out and play great against the team.”

The McNamaras went on a 9-1 run to finish the first set, and came from behind in the second set with a 7-1 run to seal the straight-set victory.

Megan McNamara said they made adjustments to prepare for their opponents’ strength at the net.

“Playing that team, we always know it’s going to go back-and-forth because they are a really strong team, so we have to play really aggressive and take care of the ball,” Megan McNamara said. “(Graudina) is a huge blocker, so when the set’s tight, just being able to cover our partner, we saved some points that way.”

Senior Izzy Carey and freshman Lindsey Sparks fell to Laurel Kujan and Hannah Martin in three sets on court five 24-22, 31-29, 15-13. The loss was the pair’s second of the season.

Senior Zana Muno and freshman Abby Van Winkle kept their perfect 20-0 record, defeating Alexandra Poletto and Haley Hallgren in extended sets 23-21, 25-23 on court three.

In the match against LMU, junior Savvy Simo and sophomore Lea Monkhouse were the first to get the Bruins on the board, winning 21-14, 21-12 on court four over the Lions’ Ella Boehle and Emma Doud.

But the lead didn’t last long.

Sponcil and Justine dropped just their second match of the season on court two 25-23, 11-21, 15-13 – tying the dual at one match apiece. Justine said the pair were thrown off by LMU’s decision to serve to Sponcil.

“LMU played us well because they switched it up and served (Sponcil) a lot,” Justine said. “I’m not really used to setting and giving her calls, and I think that got us out of rhythm a little bit.”

The Bruins went on to win the next three matches over the Lions to secure the victory.

The Bruins have now defeated the Trojans twice – but they will face them again in Palo Alto this weekend at the Pac-12 North tournament.

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Assistant Sports editor

Dzwonczyk is currently an assistant Sports editor for the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball, men's golf and women's golf beats. She was previously a reporter on the women's soccer, beach volleyball and women's tennis beats.

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