Beach volleyball returns to sand, to livestream 1st match against Long Beach State
After winning back-to-back national championships, graduate student Savvy Simo returned to No. 2 UCLA beach volleyball for a fifth season. (Courtney Quirmbach/Daily Bruin)
No. 16 Long Beach State
Thursday, 1 p.m.
LBSU Sand Courts
No TV info
No. 19 Stanford
Saturday, 10 a.m.
UCLA Live Stream-4, 5 & 6
No. 19 Stanford
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
UCLA Live Stream-4, 5 & 6
Feb. 25, 2021 11:25 a.m.
Almost a year since they last hit the sand, the Bruins are returning to the beach – and their first action will be brought to viewers by the players themselves.
No. 2 UCLA beach volleyball will take on No. 16 Long Beach State in Long Beach on Thursday before hosting No. 19 Stanford for a doubleheader Saturday.
The Bruins’ action against the Beach will be streamed on three player-created Instagram accounts via live video with filming conducted by nonparticipating UCLA players.
Traveling south for their first action after the cancellation of the 2020 season, the Bruins are still the back-to-back defending national champions and are returning fifth-year graduate student Savvy Simo to the roster thanks to another year of eligibility for spring sport athletes.
Simo – who paired with sophomore Abby Van Winkle on the first court last season – said she is grateful for the opportunity to play for the blue and gold one more time.
“I definitely didn’t think I’d be doing a fifth year here,” Simo said. “I had kind of my whole life planned out with the next step trying to go to the next level (and) play pro. But there’s this huge opportunity, especially (as) there’s not a lot of events scheduled with the professional leagues. I’m so blessed to have been able to come back and play a fifth year, because it gives me the training I need going into the professional level, and I can actually get the experience of pressure in a game and everything.”
While Simo did not share if her partnership with Van Winkle would remain, she said she is ready to get fired up with her partner and compete.
Coach Stein Metzger also said Simo’s presence on the team provides immense value, not just as a player with a 91-25 career record, but also as a leader. Metzger added that Simo has helped contribute to UCLA’s positive team culture over the last few years and has resolved issues within the team when they arise.
The Bruins will be without senior Mac May as she competes for UCLA women’s indoor volleyball in its season. May had been Simo’s partner in 2019 and partnered with junior Megan Muret six times in last year’s abbreviated campaign.
May’s competitiveness on the sand will be missed by the Bruins, according to Muret.
“Having (May) on the indoor team, we’re definitely going to miss her presence,” Muret said. “She just brings a lot of energy and fire to our team. Thankfully, we have some other people on the team who can also bring that. But yeah, we’re definitely going to miss her for sure.”
Potentially supplementing the loss of May is the emergence of the freshman class. As the team has returned to Westwood, Metzger said UCLA’s first-years have impressed at practices.
“(There are) a lot of people that I could speak to that have made big gains since last year – I don’t want to leave anybody out,” Metzger said. “I think I would probably mention the freshman class. … They’re a big part of our team. And I just think it’s one of those special classes that we’re going to have the benefit of seeing compete in the four letters, UCLA, for a while.”
Metzger also singled out graduate student and former indoor First Team All-American at University of Illinois, Jacqueline Quade, for her adjustments to a new kind of volleyball and her use of her physical abilities on the court.
“The last person that I’d like to point out just because of her growth, she’s probably most improved, is … Quade,” Metzger said. “It takes a little while to learn the beach game. It’s very different. And she is really catching on right now. She’s having some practices that are pretty impressive (with) what she’s doing. You know at 6-foot-2 with long arms, she can do things that others can’t.”
Among the differences in an unprecedented year, Metzger said his team was even more excited to begin competition in 2021 than in years past.
The chance for the Bruins to complete their three-peat on the sand will begin at 1 p.m. Thursday.