Wednesday, May 27

Beach volleyball shows versatility of lineup with consecutive Senior Day sweeps

UCLA beach volleyball completed back-to-back sweeps on Senior Day as the Bruins honored seniors Sarah Sponcil, Zana Muno, Nicole McNamara, Megan McNamara and Izzy Carey on Saturday afternoon. (Sim Beauchamp/Daily Bruin)

Beach volleyball

No. 15 Grand Canyon0
No. 1 UCLA5
No. 10 Long Beach State0
No. 1 UCLA5

Izzy Carey unplugged her phone from the speaker at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center for the last time.

The senior stopped the playlist titled “117,” – but the Bruins’ chase for UCLA’s 117th national championship is not over yet.

“It was less sentimental than I thought because I don’t feel done with the season at all,” Carey said. “We still have the two most important tournaments of the year.”

No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball (28-1) celebrated Carey and four other seniors in its last two home duals of the season, sweeping No. 15 Grand Canyon (20-11) and No. 10 Long Beach State (18-9) on Saturday.

Underclassmen sported giant cardboard cutouts of the seniors’ game faces and danced around behind their teammates in each match.

“I know these are ugly pictures of us – normally it’s just the best picture you’ve gotten – but the ugly faces were awesome,” said senior Sarah Sponcil. “And watching (the underclassmen) mess around with them was great.”

In both matches, coach Stein Metzger made adjustments to the Bruins’ usual lineup.

Sophomore Lea Monkhouse and junior Savvy Simo – named the Pac-12 Pair of the week on April 9 – moved up from their usual court four to play on court three. The pair went 2-0, including a 21-14, 21-11 dual-clinching win over Grand Canyon’s Katie Hess and Hannah Towne.

Freshman Abby Van Winkle has played most matches on court three with senior Zana Muno, and freshman Lindsey Sparks has competed on court five with Carey – but the freshmen paired up and played on court four, improving to 4-0 together.

“It gave us an opportunity to take a look at some potential partnerships we would have if we were to have sickness or injury down the stretch,” Metzger said. “These were a couple of likely scenarios that we would go to.”

Carey and sophomore Megan Muret returned to court five for the first time since March 9. Last year’s VolleyMob court five Pair of the Year ran its record to 9-0 with two wins.

“It was so fun being able to play with (Muret) again,” Carey said. “It was nice to close out the year with her considering all we’ve done together, which was win a national championship last year and we’re also roommates so we’re really close.”

UCLA’s win over Long Beach State was its eighth consecutive defeat of the 49ers, after dropping the first four meetings between 2013 and 2015.

Metzger said the program has come a long way since then.

“We’ve created a depth and a skill level in this program that makes us consistent and very hard to beat,” Metzger said. “In terms of recruiting, we’ve done a really good job of bringing in great kids and a lot of that is attributed to a great institution – people want to be here.”

UCLA will compete in the Pac-12 tournament starting Thursday at Merle Norman Stadium in Los Angeles.

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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