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No. 4 UCLA beach volleyball clinches back-to-back wins against No. 8 Pepperdine

Redshirt sophomore Hannah Phair was part of the only pair to fall in the first match of the doubleheader for No. 4 UCLA beach volleyball, but won on the third court in the second match of the day. (Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

Beach Volleyball

No. 8 Pepperdine1
No. 4 UCLA4
No. 8 Pepperdine1
No. 4 UCLA4

By Paul Diamantopoulos

March 12, 2021 4:30 p.m.

The Bruins defended their home sand with a pair of wins.

No. 4 UCLA beach volleyball (6-1, 3-0 Pac 12) defeated No. 8 Pepperdine (1-5) in back-to-back contests Thursday. The Bruins secured consecutive 4-1 wins against the Waves to continue their undefeated record at Mapes Beach since 2020.

UCLA got out to an early lead in the first match of the day after straight-set wins by the pairings of sophomore Abby Van Winkle and junior Lea Monkhouse and junior Megan Muret and graduate student Jacqueline Quade.

This early match was clinched on court one, as freshman Lexy Denaburg and graduate student Savvy Simo secured another straight-set win by the scores of 21-17 and 21-16.

Coach Stein Metzger said the team is taking a more aggressive approach to its play, which he said it executed when it came to its serving.

“Some of our wins had excellent serving,” Metzger said. “We gave the players license to miss more serves, and I thought it made a big difference.”

The second match of the day saw Pepperdine make an adjustment to its lineup, moving its only pairing that had won in the first match – Simone Priebe and Melanie Paul – up to court two.

Metzger said these types of changes happen, and given the Bruins were missing freshmen Rileigh Powers and Devon Newberry because of food poisoning, it was important his team remain flexible.

As a result of the absences, redshirt sophomore Hannah Phair and redshirt freshman Jaden Whitmarsh were slotted into courts three and five, respectively.

Phair had lost in the earlier match with her partner sophomore Lindsey Sparks, but they bounced back in the second match and came back from a set down to win by scores of 18-21, 22-20 and 15-13.

Although the pair had never practiced together according to Metzger, an hour before the match the coach made the decision to call Phair up to play alongside Sparks.

“Sparks and I actually went to high school together,” Phair said. “We had played for our beach team, and she was my indoor setter, so it was really fun to play with her especially.”

Whitmarsh also contributed as an addition to the lineup, as she completed straight-set wins in both matches with redshirt sophomore Cami Sanchez. Their second win of the day, with a scoreline of 21-18 and 21-12, allowed UCLA to clinch the afternoon match against Pepperdine.

Similar to the earlier match, court one and court four put points on the board for the Bruins with straight-set wins. Court one tallied a scoreline of 21-15 and 21-14, while court four registered a score of 21-11 and 21-16.

The only difference in the second match came on court two, which saw Van Winkle and Monkhouse lose a three-set battle. UCLA had lost the first set 21-19 and won the second set 21-18, but the match came down to a 15-11 final set score in favor of Pepperdine.

Monkhouse said Van Winkle and her had good moments throughout the match, but their opponents played better in the third set and that made the difference in the result.

“We learned a lot today from that second game,” Monkhouse said. “Some points just didn’t really go our way. … (We) were so close on breaking through the door and were barely missing, so it’s just a matter of fine-tuning and staying patient.”

The Bruins will have a two-week break from competition before they head up to Zuma Beach for another doubleheader against the Waves.

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Paul Diamantopoulos | Sports contributor
Diamantopoulos is currently a Sports contributor on the men's tennis beat. He was previously a contributor on the beach volleyball beat.
Diamantopoulos is currently a Sports contributor on the men's tennis beat. He was previously a contributor on the beach volleyball beat.
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