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UCLA beach volleyball sweeps through season, secures win at home

Senior Rileigh Powers tips the ball over the net while her partner graduate student Haley Hallgreen cheers her on. Hallgreen and Powers assisted UCLA in sweeping the Battle for LA by winning all four of their matches this weekend.
(Brandon Morquecho/Daily Bruin staff)

Beach Volleyball

Cal Poly0
No. 3 UCLA5
No. 6 Grand Canyon0
No. 3 UCLA5
No. 16 Long Beach State0
No. 3 UCLA5
No. 12 Florida Atlantic0
No. 3 UCLA5

By Alexis Hinkle

March 13, 2023 5:24 p.m.

The Bruins had taken their last 50 matches to a third set only eight times.

Senior Rileigh Powers and graduate student Haley Hallgren made it nine after a 1-1 split before clinching the third set and securing a sweep. In the final matchup against Florida Atlantic on Sunday, the pair went on a scoring run to maintain their overall undefeated streak on the season.

“It was definitely a battle for us,” Powers said. “But we did a great job of holding our energy.”

Notching its 10th sweep of the season, No. 3 UCLA beach volleyball (13-1) went 20-0 at the Battle for Los Angeles tournament. The blue and gold conquered Cal Poly (2-12) and No. 6 Grand Canyon (8-4) on Saturday, and No. 16 Long Beach State (4-8) and No. 13 Florida Atlantic (7-5) on Sunday – with all four being sweeps.

On Saturday, the blue and gold braved the rain at Mapes Beach with wet sand and heavier balls. Entering the tournament, the Bruins led 10-0 in the series history against the Mustangs, and on Saturday, they didn’t let the gloomy weather bother them as all six pairings came out on top.

The closest matchup was on court one with freshman Maggie Boyd and senior Lexy Denaburg. The duo took the first set to 24, but commanded the court in the second, defeating its opponents by eight. Boyd, Denaburg and the rest of the Bruins concluded the day with a 5-0 sweep against GCU.

Coach Stein Metzger said the triumphs on the first day were a result of the team’s desire to come back from its loss against USC last week.

“It was certainly a confidence builder,” Metzger said. “Anytime this team takes a loss, they seem to bounce back pretty well. This weekend was all about processing that and getting back to what we want to do, which is to compete hard and play well.”

The Bruins saw the same results during Sunday’s matches, sweeping both Long Beach State and FAU. In better weather conditions, all of the players contributed to the pair of sweeps.

Graduate student Abby Van Winkle paired up with sophomore Jessie Smith and junior Peri Brennan in her matches Sunday. Van Winkle said she’s now used to playing with both of them and values both of their skills and abilities.

“I enjoy playing with both of them,” Van Winkle said. “It’s been solidified with those two partners now, especially after this week. Peri is super fast and such a good athlete. Jess is super strong, physical, and she has good ball control.”

Despite the fourth pair’s battle in the final set, the blue and gold cruised through the rest of the matches, taking the crown and winning the tournament at home.

The Bruins will head to Gulf Shores, Alabama next week for a five-game tournament. Metzger said the team is excited to move out of its comfort zone.

“We have a chance to test ourselves outside of our region,” Metzger said. “I have no doubt that the team wants to continue to play hard, continue to get better and test themselves against the best teams outside of California.”

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Alexis Hinkle
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