This post was updated Feb. 21 at 12:22 p.m.
A new court and some new pairs have made their debut for the Bruins.
No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball (1-0) swept No. 8 Loyola Marymount (0-1) by a score of 5-0 in its season opener Thursday morning. After graduating five seniors from last year’s championship roster, the Bruins started with new pairings on every court, including five new faces.
“I like our partnerships right now,” said coach Stein Metzger. “I think we’re going to be sticking with them for some time here barring any illness or injuries. … I’m super excited about the new people who have joined our squad.”
Senior Savvy Simo and sophomore Abby Van Winkle were able to clinch the court one point against LMU’s Selina Marolf and Reka Orsi Toth. Simo and Van Winkle spent most of last year’s season on courts four and three, respectively, but were moved up following the graduation of Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara.
“(Van Winkle) has been out of commission for a little bit and only recently rejoined the team for the last two weeks, so to see her have success at two positions higher after only having a couple of weeks under her belt is pretty impressive,” Metzger said. “There are some really tough ones, teams out there in the country this year so they’re going to have their hands full so it’s good to see them have some success early.”
Another one of the new pairings was senior Lily Justine and junior Lea Monkhouse on court two, who brought UCLA its first point – but not before forcing the match into a tiebreaker. The duo dropped the first set 21-14 to LMU’s Darby Dunn and Megan Rice before regaining its footing to take the second set 21-17 and the third 15-11.
Monkhouse said she and Justine got along well, despite shared frustrations during the match.
“We’re both like, ‘Yeah, it was frustrating for sure,’” Monkhouse said. “I wasn’t playing my best, but I think she kind of told me, ‘Hey, I got you.’ And, you know, I trust (Justine) and I think she trusts me, and we just stayed calm and did what we needed to do.”
Courts three and four also needed a third-set tiebreaker to decide their matches.
Graduate transfer Jacqueline Quade and sophomore Lindsey Sparks gained the Bruins’ second point with a 21-7, 17-21, 16-14 win over the Lions’ Georgia Fusco and Lacy Haddock on court four. On court three – the last to finish – junior Megan Muret and freshman Devon Newberry won 22-24, 17-21, 15-10.
Both freshman Rileigh Powers and senior Madi Yeomans were new to UCLA’s starting lineup and made their debuts on court five Thursday. They worked together to clinch the match 21-16, 21-6, and Yeomans said their more dominant second-set win was due to overcoming initial nerves.
“Me and (Powers) have been working really hard together,” Yeomans said. “(Powers) and I played a little bit in fall and so we just really ended up clicking. We have really good chemistry together, and we just really support each other, so it doesn’t really feel like she’s a freshman and I’m a senior. I’m just trying to keep her calm, she keeps me calm.”
UCLA will travel to Honolulu for the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Beach Classic this weekend to take on No. 5 Hawai’i, No. 3 LSU and No. 19 Stanford.