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UCLA beach volleyball defeats LSU at NCAA tournament following weather delay

Senior Lea Monkhouse lunges to receive the ball against No. 6 seed LSU on Friday. Monkhouse and freshman Jessie Smith overcame a five-point hole to guide No. 3 seed UCLA beach volleyball through the second round of the NCAA tournament. (Joseph Jimenez/Daily Bruin)

beach volleyball


No. 6 seed LSU0
No. 3 seed UCLA3

By Bryan Palmero

May 6, 2022 3:13 p.m.

This post was updated May 6 at 5:15 p.m.

Even with a weather delay, the Bruins wasted no time in round two.

Securing the dual in under 40 minutes, No. 3 seed UCLA beach volleyball (33-7, 8-0 Pac-12) swept No. 6 seed LSU (31-11, 3-4 CCSA) in the second round of the National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship on Friday in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The dual began over three hours after its originally scheduled start because of inclement weather.

Entering Friday, UCLA had faced LSU twice this year, losing on at least one court on both occasions. During the March to May event played in Gulf Shores, the Bruins defeated the Tigers 4-1 on March 20 in a weekend featuring a wind delay of its own.

Given her team’s prior firsthand experience with the elements, freshman Jessie Smith said UCLA was ready for Friday’s weather.

“Ever since the very beginning of the season, we had wind documents that we’d go over,” Smith said. “Whenever it was a windy day, we’d make sure to head over to Santa Monica and get practice. … We were really prepared coming in here.”

[Related: UCLA beach volleyball leaves windy March to May tournament with undefeated record]

Sophomore Lexy Denaburg and junior Abby Van Winkle pulled ahead with a lead as large as eight points on court one en route to a 21-13 opening set victory, marking UCLA’s first pair to win a frame.

Freshmen Natalie Myszkowski and Sophie Moore followed up their teammates on the top court with a 21-17 first-frame triumph on court five, while court two’s pair of sophomore Devon Newberry and redshirt sophomore Jaden Whitmarsh raced from a 10-all tie to pull away with a 21-19 triumph.

Opposite Newberry and Whitmarsh was LSU’s Kylie Deberg, a 6-foot-4 former indoor volleyball player. Coach Stein Metzger said his team’s court two pair adapted well to its opponent’s skill set and frame.

“They were extremely creative in their shot making,” Metzger said. “Their game was to work around that block, and they did it effectively.”

While the Bruins all nabbed the first point on each of their five matches, it took a pair of come-from-behind victories to do so. Senior Lea Monkhouse and Smith faced a 5-0 hole on court three, and court four’s pair of sophomore Rileigh Powers and graduate student Marlie Monserez fell behind 6-1 in its first frame.

Monkhouse and Smith rallied back, with a Tiger attack error evening the set at nine apiece. Like their court three counterparts, Powers and Monserez would shave their deficit to zero at 11-11.  

“We started off a little timid,” Smith said. “We had confidence in playing in the wind. So we just had to go back to everything our coaches taught us about the wind, and that really changed the game.”

Leads shifted multiple times on courts three and four, including a race to an overtime finish on Monkhouse and Smith’s game. Using a kill down line, Powers and Monserez completed the seven-point turnaround 21-19. 

Tied at 23-all, Monkhouse and Smith rattled off two straight scores, emerging victorious in the pair’s highest-scoring set of the season.

Freshman Jessie Smith rises up for an attack against LSU’s Holly Carlton in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Friday. (Joseph Jimenez/Daily Bruin)

After playing catch-up for most of its first frame, court three held an advantage as large as nine points in the second set. At set point, Smith went up for a match-sealing kill in the corner of the court for UCLA’s first point of the dual.

Monkhouse said Smith’s personality and presence have been pivotal in allowing the pair to succeed.

“She’s honestly more calm than me in a lot of situations,” Monkhouse said. “I get the pre-game jitters sometimes… she always just makes me feel better.”

Van Winkle rejected an LSU attack to claim court one’s match victory before court five took the dual-clinching point with a 21-17 win, marking Myszkowski and Moore’s first NCAA tournament triumph.

Instead of facing its third-round opponent later Friday, UCLA will take on No. 10 seed Georgia State on Saturday at 7 a.m. after the tournament rescheduled third-round duals following the inclement weather delay.

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Bryan Palmero | Daily Bruin senior staff
Palmero is a senior staff writer for Sports. He served as the assistant Sports editor on the softball, beach volleyball, women's volleyball, men's volleyball and men's golf beats from 2021-2022 and a Sports reporter on the beach volleyball and women's volleyball beats in 2021. He is a third-year mathematics and economics student.
Palmero is a senior staff writer for Sports. He served as the assistant Sports editor on the softball, beach volleyball, women's volleyball, men's volleyball and men's golf beats from 2021-2022 and a Sports reporter on the beach volleyball and women's volleyball beats in 2021. He is a third-year mathematics and economics student.
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