It all came down to court five once again.
And again, juniors Megan Muret and Mac May – a duo that didn’t get to compete against the Trojans in last year’s national championship – pulled out the Bruin victory.
“We both were in the same boat last year, and it’s kind of kept us together in that we play like we have nothing to lose and work hard because we do get limited opportunities, at this point, in the lineup,” May said. “We’ve been really taking care of business when we’re given that opportunity.”
No. 2 UCLA beach volleyball (13-2) defeated No. 6 USC (6-5) and No. 10 Pepperdine (2-5) both by scores of 3-2 at Merle Norman Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. The Bruins came back from down 2-0 against the Trojans – with court five clinching the rivalry win for the second time in five days – as Muret and May’s two-set win Saturday gave UCLA its first win over USC this season.
The first win of the comeback came on court one, where senior Savvy Simo and sophomore Abby Van Winkle – this week’s Pac-12 Pair of the Week – took down Haley Hallgren and Hailey Harward 21-19, 21-10.
The Bruins’ court one duo is now 13-2 on the season, including six straight wins. Last season, Simo played on court four and Van Winkle on court three.
“They’re really gelling – in fact, they were solid today,” said coach Stein Metzger. “(Van Winkle) is playing at a real high level right now and making a lot of big plays for us as a sophomore.”
The court two pair of sophomore Lindsey Sparks and freshman Lexy Denaburg accounted for the second UCLA win of the dual, defeating USC’s Kyla Doig and Sammy Slater 21-16, 23-21.
The win came five days after Sparks and Denaburg fell to that same partnership in straight sets at the Pac-12 South tournament.
“It felt good because we actually played our style of volleyball today,” Sparks said. “We got into a good groove.”
Senior Lily Justine and junior Lea Monkhouse fell 21-23, 21-18, 15-13 on court three, bringing them to a 12-4 record this year. Freshmen Rileigh Powers and Devon Newberry also lost on court four, 21-15, 22-20.
May said the Bruins are capable of taking all courts against the Trojans next time.
“We still have a long ways to go considering both of our wins (over USC) were 3-2,” May said. “We can still improve on a lot of things, and I think we could definitely win 5-0 or 4-1.”
Later Wednesday afternoon, UCLA and Pepperdine split the first two matches to head into the second flight tied 1-1. Justine and Monkhouse beat the Waves’ court three pair, while Powers and Newberry suffered their second court four loss of the day.
Bruin wins on courts one and five – with court one being the deciding matchup this time around – secured their second dual victory of the day.
“We just threw (May) in (the lineup) and she’s been performing really well – she’s been playing the best beach volleyball I’ve ever seen her play,” Metzger said. “That’s a real bright spot. … Once again, it’s depth that makes us strong.”
UCLA will return to action Saturday at the Zuma Beach Classic, where it will face No. 18 Georgia State, Pepperdine and No. 5 Cal Poly.