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UCLA beach volleyball falls into NCAA tournament losers bracket with defeat to USC

Freshman Natalie Myszkowski fails to receive the ball in No. 3 seed UCLA beach volleyball’s dual against No. 10 seed Georgia State on Saturday. The blue and gold took down the Panthers but lost to No. 1 seed USC in the winners bracket final. (Joseph Jimenez/Daily Bruin)

Beach Volleyball


No. 10 seed Georgia State0
No. 3 seed UCLA3
No. 3 seed UCLA0
No. 1 seed USC3

By Bryan Palmero

May 7, 2022 4:10 p.m.

With a chance to advance to the final dual of the season, the Bruins failed to win a single set.

No. 3 seed UCLA beach volleyball (34-8, 8-0 Pac-12) was swept by No. 1 seed USC (36-1) in the National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship winners bracket final after sweeping No. 10 seed Georgia State (28-13, 5-3 C-USA) earlier in the day. In the matchup with the Trojans, the Bruins lost every set they played for the first time this season en route to being booted to the elimination bracket.

Against the Panthers, the Bruins led by the technical timeout in four of their five matches, with court five’s pair of freshmen Natalie Myszkowski and Sophie Moore behind 11-10. Myszkowski and Moore – both 2022 American Volleyball Coaches Association Top Flight recipients – flipped the script with an 11-8 run, while court four picked up UCLA’s lone opening-set defeat.

Entering Saturday, the Panthers had dropped four of five first sets in each of their two duals in tournament play. Despite its pair of deficits, Georgia State took down its first two higher-seeded opponents, including a 3-2 victory over No. 2 seed TCU to complete the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history.

Facing the same Panther pair that clinched Georgia’s State’s victory over TCU on Friday, senior Lea Monkhouse and freshman Jessie Smith raced away with a 21-17, 21-13 win to get on the board first. 

Senior Lea Monkhouse looks on as the ball lands out of bounds during the Bruins’ dual against the Panthers on Saturday. (Joseph Jimenez/Daily Bruin)

Georgia State’s Cinderella run would not continue, though, as it collected match-ending attack and service errors on courts one and three, respectively, to send UCLA to the winner’s bracket final with a date against USC.

In their three victories prior to their bout with the Trojans, the Bruins were undefeated on courts one, two and three. Behind a block-out kill and a crosscourt attack from USC’s Sammy Slater to close out the first and second sets, court two’s pair of redshirt sophomore Jaden Whitmarsh and sophomore Devon Newberry took their first loss of the tournament.

With the team playing in flights, court four’s play coincided with only court two as opposed to all five matches occuring at once. Graduate student Marlie Monserez and sophomore Rileigh Powers fell 21-17, 21-13 to close out their match and push the Bruins to a 2-0 hole before the start of the second flight.

Entering the second set of games, UCLA’s one, three and five pairs all needed to win –  a feat they had not achieved in a single dual against USC this year – to break the Bruins’ four-dual losing streak to the Trojans.

Sophomore Lexy Denaburg and junior Abby Van Winkle – the last pair to defeat the Trojans’ Tina Graudina and Hailey Harward on March 5 – could not snap their court one opponents’ 28-match winning streak, falling 21-16, 21-13.

Despite the defeat, UCLA’s season will continue Sunday in the elimination bracket final. Playing with a chance to face USC once more and for a shot at the NCAA title, the blue and gold will take on the winner of No. 4 seed Loyola Marymount and No. 5 seed Florida State. 

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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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