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Beach volleyball falls to USC in Pac-12 tournament for second loss of season

Seniors Nicole McNamara (left) and Megan McNamara (right) fell to USC’s Abril Bustamante and Tina Graudina on court one, giving the Trojans the 3-2 victory in the Pac-12 championship. (Alice Naland/Daily Bruin)

By Jacqueline Dzwonczyk

April 26, 2019 9:23 p.m.

It came down to court one.

Fans flooded to the middle court, where senior Megan McNamara slapped her sister’s hand before stepping back to the service line. The ball ricocheted off the antenna and landed out of bounds.

“You hate to lose to (USC) at any point,” said coach Stein Metzger. “But if you’re going to lose one, that’s the one. Of the four times I expect to play them in the postseason, this is the least important one.”

No. 1 seed UCLA (30-2) fell to No. 2 seed USC (27-4) 3-2 in the winner’s bracket finals of the Pac-12 championship Friday night after defeating No. 4 seed Arizona (25-6) 3-0 on Friday morning.

The Trojans handed the Bruins their only loss of the regular season April 7, and Friday’s match tied the series at 2-2.

Senior Izzy Carey and freshman Lindsey Sparks gave the Bruins an early lead with a 21-15, 21-10 win on court five.

UCLA fell on court four 21-15, 21-15 to tie the dual at 1-1 after the first flight. The loss snapped junior Savvy Simo and sophomore Lea Monkhouse’s 13-match winning streak.

The second flight opened with all three Bruin pairs trailing early.

But senior Sarah Sponcil and junior Lily Justine tied the court two match at 12 and then took a lead that held until the end of the first set. The pair took the second set 21-17 to put the Bruins up 2-1.

Sponcil and Justine lost to USC’s Terese Cannon and Sammy Slater in their last meeting.

“I think the last time we played (USC) we kind of dwelled on the past mistakes and I think we learned from that,” Sponcil said. “This time we were adjusting a lot during the match and making game plans during timeouts.”

The court three match was the next to finish, with senior Zana Muno and freshman Abby Van Winkle losing 21-18, 21-19.

The dual was decided on court one, where Nicole and Megan McNamara lost to Abril Bustamante and Tina Graudina for the third time this season. The Trojan pair hit four aces in the third set en route to a 15-10 victory, which ended on Megan McNamara’s missed serve.

Metzger said the courts at USC made it hard for UCLA to jump serve.

“The end lines are shorter than what are regulation, so we don’t have our full space to jump serve,” Metzger said. “They’re accustomed to it. We’re not.”

UCLA will enter the contender’s bracket – just like it did last year on its way to the NCAA championship. The Bruins will take on the winner of No. 3 seed California and No. 4 seed Arizona State.

A win tomorrow morning would send UCLA to a rematch with USC in the Pac-12 championship final at 1:30 p.m.

“We’re going to come through the loser’s bracket because that’s what we do,” Van Winkle said. “And we’re going to win it all.”

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