Beach volleyball to host conference rivals in weekend tournament
Sophomore Abby Van Winkle has played every match for No. 2 UCLA beach volleyball this season on court one, alongside senior Savvy Simo. The duo has run a 7-2 record with both losses coming against No. 1 LSU. (Joy Hong/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Saturday, 10 a.m.
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Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
No TV info
March 6, 2020 1:47 a.m.
The Bruins will open Pac-12 action at home and face their conference rivals at Mapes Beach for the first time.
In the Pac-12 South tournament, No. 2 UCLA beach volleyball (7-2) will take on Arizona State (3-3, 0-1 Pac-12) and No. 5 USC (3-2) on Saturday before hosting Oregon (2-2) and Washington (2-1) on Sunday.
UCLA won its first game of the year at the new Mapes Beach courts against LMU (3-3), and coach Stein Metzger said the environment on the home sand was more advantageous for his squad.
“The elements here are different than any other place,” Metzger said. “At LSU, we had to play in their hard-packed sand, (but) here we tend to have deeper sand where ball control is at a premium. We’re looking forward to playing our style of ball on our surface.”
UCLA is coming off its second loss of the season to No. 1 LSU (8-2), which came at the conclusion of last weekend’s Tiger Beach Challenge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Metzger also said he trusts his team as it prepares for Pac-12 play in Westwood after it went 2-1 last weekend, with four pairs dropping at least one match.
“We’re making small adjustments to our serve and pass game, but I have full confidence that we have the right pairs and they’re going to do great,” Metzger said.
One of the losing pairs last weekend was senior Savvy Simo and sophomore Abby Van Winkle, who were swept 21-18, 22-20 on the first court by the Tigers.
Van Winkle – who was paired last year with then-senior Zana Muno and then-sophomore Lindsey Sparks – said it has taken time to develop chemistry with her new partner.
“(Simo) and I definitely had a later start just because I had an injury before coming (this year), so now we are finally getting our game together and clicking well,” Van Winkle said.
UCLA’s match against USC is a rematch of last year’s national championship. The Trojans were the only team to defeat the eventual-national champion Bruins during the season, beating their crosstown rivals three times.
Metzger said USC provides length on their side of the net – with 6-foot-1 Haley Hallgren and six-foot-tall Kyla Doig on the Trojans’ first two courts – and UCLA will need to adjust.
“USC has some fairly physical, tall athletes who can hit the ball well, so we’re just trying to get them off the net and put them in situations where they can’t use their firepower,” Metzger said.
UCLA’s other opponents this weekend – Arizona State, Oregon and Washington – are all unranked, and are three of seven teams in the conference not in the country’s top 20.
Junior Lea Monkhouse – a winner of both of her games last weekend against Tulane and LSU with partner senior Lily Justine – said the team will be sure not to overlook any opponent in the country, regardless of ranking.
“Everyone across the whole NCAA is better this year,” Monkhouse said. “Treating (every single) team the same is all we need to do.”
Among these opponents, the Sun Devils were the only team to share a common conference opponent with the Bruins, as Arizona State lost 4-1 to No. 19 Stanford, while the Bruins have defeated the Cardinal 5-0 twice so far this season.
The Bruins’ first game will be on Saturday at 10 a.m. against the Sun Devils.