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UCLA beach volleyball falls to LMU in second round of NCAA tournament

Just like in the Pac-12 championship final, the dual came down to freshman Rileigh Powers (pictured) and redshirt freshman Jaden Whitmarsh on court five. This time, however, No. 1 seed UCLA beach volleyball fell short, losing to No. 5 seed LMU on Friday. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin staff)

Beach Volleyball

No. 5 seed LMU3
No. 1 seed UCLA2

By Paul Diamantopoulos

May 7, 2021 2:56 p.m.

The Bruins came into Friday with an undefeated record against the Lions, but failed to make it four straight.

No. 1 seed UCLA beach volleyball (29-4, 10-0 Pac-12) came up short to No. 5 seed LMU (31-6, 9-0 WCC) in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Gulf Shores, Alabama, losing by a score of 3-2. Despite the loss, the blue and gold’s back-to-back title defense will continue in the elimination bracket against No. 7 seed Cal Poly on Saturday, with a loss there spelling the end of the season for coach Stein Metzger’s team.

The entire match came down to court five, similar to the most recent Pac-12 championships during which freshman Rileigh Powers and redshirt freshman Jaden Whitmarsh clinched the dual over USC at Mapes Beach. The Bruins were far from their home sand, however, as the Lions stormed out to an early lead in the final set 8-4.

Powers and Whitmarsh fought back and brought the set as close as 11-8 but were unable to make up the early lead they had surrendered. LMU won four of the next six points to close out the match, stifling UCLA’s comeback attempt on its second match point.

The Bruins started the dual by securing three out of five first sets against the Lions, but were the first to drop a point in the match. Junior Megan Muret and graduate student Jacqueline Quade fell on court four by a score of 21-13, 21-11.

UCLA rebounded quickly with a point of its own on court one as graduate student Savvy Simo and freshman Lexy Denaburg registered a 21-13, 21-12 win. Just as the blue and gold had brought the match score to a 1-1 tie, LMU put itself back on top with a win on court two.

Junior Lea Monkhouse and freshman Devon Newberry fell in straight sets by scores of 21-18 and 21-19. The match was tight throughout, with the Bruins faltering at the end of each set with errors. Newberry and Monkhouse held a 15-14 lead in the second set, but allowed their opponents to reel off seven of the last 10 points and take the match.

On court three, UCLA bounced back with a win of its own as sophomores Lindsey Sparks and Abby Van Winkle won in straight sets 21-17, 21-16. This point brought the match score back to a 2-2 tie with all eyes on court five, where Whitmarsh and Powers were pushed to a deciding third set before ultimately taking the defeat.

The Bruins will play against the Mustangs in the contenders bracket Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

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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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