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Beach volleyball tallies 4 wins at beach classic, but falls in finale to LSU

Sophomore Abby Van Winkle played primarily on court three last season for No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball, but has started on court one in each of the Bruins’ opening six matches this season. Van Winkle and senior Savvy Simo went 4-1 in Hawaii over the weekend. (Joy Hong/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Beach volleyball

No. 20 Stanford0
No. 1 UCLA5
No. 2 LSU3
No. 1 UCLA2

By Lexi Grimes

February 24, 2020 7:03 pm

This post was updated Feb. 24 at 9:25 p.m.

The Bruins were able to showcase their depth this weekend, despite logging their first loss of the season in Hawaii.

No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball (5-1) logged four victories against three ranked teams en route to a second-place finish in the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Beach Classic. The Bruins defeated No. 2 LSU (3-2) and No. 5 Hawai’i (3-2), as well as posting two wins over No. 20 Stanford (0-4).

Despite its strong beginning, UCLA ended up falling short in its last match against LSU. Sophomore Lindsey Sparks and freshman Lexy Denaburg recorded a two-set win on court two, while junior Megan Muret and freshman Devon Newberry also won in two on court five. However, freshman Rileigh Powers and senior Madi Yeomans lost in two sets on court four, and the Bruins lost both of their three-set matches on courts one and three.

UCLA began the round-robin pool Saturday with a 3-2 victory over Hawai’i that was decided by a three-set, court one matchup. Senior Savvy Simo and sophomore Abby Van Winkle defeated Hawai’i in their first match with scores of 25-23, 21-23, and 15-11. The Bruins continued to win throughout the day, defeating the Tigers 4-1 and ending Saturday with a 5-0 victory over the Cardinal.

On Sunday, UCLA began the tournament portion of the weekend with a 5-0 sweep of Stanford. The Bruins then advanced to the championship game, where UCLA followed up its victory with a 3-2 loss to LSU, ending the tournament in second place.

Despite the loss, UCLA utilized 15 players and nine pairings over the course of the weekend, with all players winning at least one match. This depth will give the Bruins many players to choose from as they continue to figure out how to best replace the five senior starters that they lost after last season.

In a tournament that showcased the Bruins’ depth, there was only one pairing that did not feature a switch of partners or courts at all during the tournament – Simo and Van Winkle.

The duo played all five times together on court one, winning four out of its five matches. Simo and Van Winkle played mainly on courts four and three last year, respectively, but have been the go-to court one pairing so far this season.

Sparks was another constant in the tournament this weekend, as she played with two partners on two courts and was the only UCLA player to win in all five matches over the weekend.

The Bruins will have almost a week of rest before they depart for the three-game Tiger Beach Challenge in Louisiana. They will face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (0-0), Tulane (2-0) and have a rematch against LSU.

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Lexi Grimes | Sports contributor
Grimes is currently a Sports contributor on the beach volleyball beat. She was previously a contributor on the women's volleyball beat.
Grimes is currently a Sports contributor on the beach volleyball beat. She was previously a contributor on the women's volleyball beat.
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