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At Pac-12 South Invitational, UCLA beach volleyball notches 3 wins, loses to USC

Senior Devon Newberry walks while spinning the ball. Newberry competed in her first dual tournament Saturday after returning from a nine-month shoulder injury. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

Beach Volleyball

No. 1 UCLA5
Arizona State0
No. 1 UCLA5
No. 1 UCLA5
No. 1 UCLA2
No. 4 USC3

By Rahaf Abumansour

March 7, 2023 4:49 p.m.

The Bruins fell to their crosstown rival after starting off the season with a nine-game winning streak.

Emotions were high as No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball (9-1, 3-0 Pac-12) hosted the Pac-12 South Invitational with contests against Oregon (2-7, 0-2), Arizona State (4-3, 2-2) and Utah (2-6, 0-3) and then traveled across Los Angeles to compete against its rival, No. 4 USC (6-0). The Bruins were victorious Saturday against Oregon and Arizona State and split their contests Sunday with a win over Utah and a loss to USC. UCLA didn’t lose a set in any of its first three duals.

The Bruins failed to replicate their success when battling their crosstown rivals, as they lost the dual by a score of 3-2. The Bruins started the second match against USC with a 2-0 lead, including a critical win on court two. Senior Devon Newberry first appeared on Saturday, where she and freshman Maggie Boyd defeated Arizona State’s Taryn Ames and Sarah Waters 21-12, 21-15.

The senior got hurt mid-game and finished the contest against USC despite the injury, and UCLA led 1-0 after Newberry and Boyd defeated the Trojans 21-16, 21-19. This was Newberry’s first tournament on the court after a previous nine-month shoulder injury.

“To come back and have not only my family around but also my Bruin family – to have my friends from other sports and everyone cheering me on – was the best feeling I could’ve asked for,” Newberry said.

The Bruins continued the fight, but the Trojans relentlessly chased the win.

Senior Lexy Denaburg and graduate student Abby Van Winkle attempted another point for the Bruins, but Megan Kraft and Delaynie Maple of the Trojans won in tough sets 21-23, 18-21 on court one. The fight continued when USC’s Delaney Karl and Gabby Walker defeated graduate students Jaden Whitmarsh and Marlie Monserez 21-18, 11-21, 15-10 to tie the dual for the Trojans.

It all came down to the final match on court three, where juniors Peri Brennan and Tessa Van Winkle ultimately fell against USC’s Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse 15-21, 24-22, 17-15.

The Saturday match against Oregon saw many partnerships, as senior Rileigh Powers and graduate student Haley Hallgren swept 21-14, 21-8. Another duo that notched a victory against the Ducks was sophomore Natalie Myszkowski and Whitmarsh, winning 21-9, 21-13 to defend the pair’s No. 1 ranking.

“It’s super fun, and everyone is out here to compete and to play our best,” Tessa Van Winkle said. “I think everyone just kind of is going in with that mentality.”

Coach Stein Metzger praised the level of competition that helped the Bruins stay on top against the Ducks.

“It’s the most deep group we ever had,” Stein said. “Our practice is a lot of competition, and a lot of our players have played with different partners. It has made us more ready to compete off the gates.”

As for the Bruins’ match against Arizona State, juniors Peri Brennan and Tessa Van Winkle swept ASU’s Anya Pemberton and Ivey Weber on court three 21-11, 21-15. Court two saw Newberry alongside Boyd defeat Arizona State’s Taryn Ames and Sarah Waters 21-12, 21-15.

Both Newberry and Tessa Van Winkle shared similar sentiments about the importance of having a sense of family on the beach volleyball team.

“We have such a great team culture, and we are a band of sisters,” Tessa Van Winkle said. “And we always want the best for each other, and it makes me feel so good.”

With a group of talented players, it is no secret that this team is competitive and out to prove itself, said Metzger, who applauded his team’s athleticism.

“I did notice in warmups and the matches are a level of professionalism that comes with a team that has more experience,” Metzger said. “We do have a lot of athletes with playing experience, so that’s what I noticed, and it’s what makes our job easier.”

The Bruins will prepare to host the Battle for LA tournament at Mapes Beach, with matches against Cal Poly and Grand Canyon on March 11 and matches against Long Beach State and Florida Atlantic on March 12.

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Rahaf Abumansour
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