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No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball falls to No. 2 LSU again going into conference play

Senior Savvy Simo and her partner sophomore Abby Van Winkle ran a 2-1 record on court one this weekend for No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball. The pair defeated its opponents from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Tulane but lost to the duo from No. 2 LSU. (Joy Hong/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Beach volleyball

No. 1 UCLA5
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi0
No. 1 UCLA4
No. 1 UCLA2
No. 2 LSU3

By Lexi Grimes

March 1, 2020 4:04 p.m.

The Tigers have been the team to beat for the Bruins.

No. 1 UCLA (7-2) defeated both Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (0-3) and Tulane (5-2) on Saturday in Louisiana before falling in its final match against No. 2 LSU (8-2).

The Tigers have now defeated the Bruins twice in a row, both times by a score of 3-2. UCLA defeated LSU 4-1 in Hawaii on Feb. 22 but subsequently lost the rematches Feb. 23 and Saturday. Coach Stein Metzger said the competition from LSU is not much of a surprise.

“I knew going into the season that LSU was going to be the team to beat,” Metzger said. “I’m looking forward to improving and gaining on them throughout the season.”

UCLA began the Tiger Beach Challenge with a 5-0 win against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, beating the Islanders in two sets on every court except court three, with the pairing of junior Mac May and redshirt freshman Jaden Whitmarsh.

The Bruins continued their success with a 4-1 defeat of the Green Wave. All five of the matchups ended in two sets, and the court four pairing of freshman Rileigh Powers and senior Madi Yeomans was the only one that did not win.

Despite momentum from the two early wins, UCLA fell in its last match of the day, losing 3-2 to LSU. The Tigers first won the matchup on court four, as LSU’s Kelli Agnew and Taryn Kloth defeated freshmen Devon Newberry and Powers before UCLA tied the match with a court five win from Yeomans and junior Megan Muret.

The Bruins dropped the next two matchups, losing on courts one and two. Junior Lea Monkhouse and senior Lily Justine won the last matchup on court three, but the outcome had already been decided.

Senior Savvy Simo said quick decision-making was something UCLA lacked against LSU.

“We need to work on making better defensive and blocking decisions, especially against a team of their size and talent,” Simo said. “Obviously the match was very close, and I think we played really well. It is hard to play at their home court, but we battled it out, and it was a really close match.”

Metzger said he was more concerned with his players’ offensive performance against the Tigers.

“(LSU was) beating us in the pass and serve battles,” Metzger said. “It’s really hard to win when the other team is serving better and passing better than you are.”

UCLA will begin Pac-12 play March 7, with matches against No. 19 Arizona State (2-2) and No. 4 USC (2-2). It will also play Oregon (2-2) and Washington (2-1) on March 8.

Even with early struggles, Simo said she has faith in her team’s ability down the stretch.

“We are a young team,” Simo said. “We are developing, though, and I have a lot of faith in this team. I’m really looking forward to seeing us improve throughout the rest of the season.”

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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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