Beach volleyball serves losses to USC, Arizona State in first day of tournament
Junior Megan Muret played on court five for No. 2 UCLA beach volleyball in its matches at the Pac-12 South tournament Saturday. Muret and junior Mac May dropped their match against Arizona State but bounced back to clinch the dual versus No. 5 USC. (Alice Naland/Daily Bruin staff)
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March 8, 2020 12:12 a.m.
Just hours after dropping her first match of the day, Mac May – a last-minute addition to the lineup – helped clinch the Bruins’ rivalry win.
The junior, subbing in for senior Madi Yeomans, swept her court five match 25-23, 23-21 alongside junior Megan Muret for No. 2 UCLA beach volleyball (9-2) en route to a 3-2 win over No. 5 USC (4-3) in the Pac-12 South tournament.
Earlier in the day, May and Muret were the only pair to fall to Arizona State (4-4, 1-1 Pac-12) in the Bruins’ 4-1 win, getting swept 19-21, 16-21. Coach Stein Metzger said since the duo was a last-second pairing decided just 40 minutes before the match, the juniors had only one chance to practice in the week leading up to the tournament.
“I thought they handled it very well,” Metzger said. “You’re never at your best when you’re thrown together, especially in this kind of sport and this environment. So the fact that they came through with the deciding win was huge.”
Muret started regularly as a freshman but was removed from the lineup during the majority of last season. In her first matchup with the Trojans since February 2019, she clinched the dual with all eyes on her court.
She said it felt good to beat USC in UCLA’s first match against the Trojans on the new Mapes Beach courts.
“It feels so good to be back on the court,” Muret said. “All my teammates were out there cheering us on, and I know I was on the other side of it last year cheering them on, but either side you’re on, it feels great to be part of this team.”
The Bruins swept on courts one, two and three against the Sun Devils on Saturday morning, but court four was forced into a tiebreak. Freshmen Devon Newberry and Rileigh Powers dropped their first set to Arizona State 25-27 before picking up the second and third sets 21-17 and 15-7, respectively.
Later in the day, UCLA swept only on courts one and five, falling to USC on courts two and three.
Newberry and Powers again led court four to the only tiebreak of the dual, which again ultimately resulted in a point for the Bruins. Their win tied the dual at 1-1 heading into the second flight of courts. Had the duo lost, based on the ordering of the courts, the Trojans would have won the dual before the court five match finished.
This was the freshmen’s first time playing UCLA’s crosstown rival in their collegiate careers, which Powers said she has been anticipating for years.
“When I was in high school, I would always watch (UCLA) play USC and I was like, ‘I cannot wait to play here and (against) USC,’” Powers said. “That really inspired us to go out there and do our best and fight for every point.”
With more than half of the Trojan lineup different from the last time the Bruins faced them in Gulf Shores, Alabama, for the NCAA championship, Metzger said there were many new faces on the court since last season.
Both USC and UCLA had new court one pairings, with senior Savvy Simo and sophomore Abby Van Winkle winning the match for the Bruins – something last year’s court one duo of Nicole McNamara and Megan McNamara was unable to do in four of its six matchups with the Trojans.
“Both teams graduated quite a lot of people,” Metzger said. “So you had a lot of new bodies out there that had to deal with a really emotionally charged match, and I thought we did a nice job. Even though we didn’t play our best game – we still got a lot to improve upon – I thought (the Bruins) stayed pretty centered and calm and patient until the end when we scraped together a couple points to win.”
UCLA will close out the Pac-12 South tournament Sunday against Oregon (3-3, 1-1) and Washington (2-3, 0-2).