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Bruins win Battle for LA in beach volleyball’s home opener

Senior Tessa Van Winkle passes the ball. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Sevginaz Gurleyici

March 3, 2024 4:50 p.m.

The Bruins played their way to victory this weekend in the Battle for LA through both rain and shine.

Starting the weekend with victories against No. 8 California (6-2) and No. 18 Cal Poly (4-1) on Friday, No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball (8-3) finished the weekend tournament on a rainy Saturday with wins against No. 9 Long Beach State (4-2) and No. 13 Washington (3-5), winning the Battle for LA.

The duo of senior Peri Brennan and graduate student Devon Newberry started the weekend off with victories against California and Cal Poly on Friday. Though they opened Saturday morning with a lost set to Washington, the new duo recovered to win the set.

“I think that the past couple of weeks playing together, every first set has been an opportunity for us to almost struggle and come back,” Newberry said. “So for that one (set), it was more just locking in our pass and our set, and then we kind of took it from there.”

A new combination on the Bruins’ roster this year, Brennan and Newberry ended the tournament with four consecutive victories, all while still learning how to play with one another in their new partnership.

“Every game we’ve kind of come off being like, ‘Woah, that’s a different circumstance that I didn’t expect,’” Newberry said. “We’re still definitely learning about each other, which I think is exciting that we’ve been able to perform while still learning how to play with each other.”

Sophomore Maggie Boyd and graduate student Lexy Denaburg secured the Bruins’ victory in the tournament during their second match of the day, winning against Long Beach State, 2-0.

Following the conclusion of the tournament-winning match, however, one court over, senior Tessa Van Winkle and graduate student Jaden Whitmarsh continued their match against the Beach.

Following defeat in its first set, the duo fought in a neck-and-neck battle that extended to a third set. After a cross-court hammer by Van Winkle brought the Bruins to their first match point at 14-11, they won after the second match point with a score of 15-12.

“That was a good match,” Van Winkle said. “We just kept a positive mindset, and, no matter what, we’re going to just have an aggressive approach. … Even when we were down, it still felt like we had complete control over the match.”

Following their eight-win start to the season, the Bruins are now turning toward the Pac-12 South Invitational in Arizona next week.

Coach Jenny Johnson Jordan said the past two weeks have been good preparation for what is to come.

“We’ve been tested very early,” Johnson Jordan said. “In that sense, it’s been good for us these first two weeks, and we’re looking forward to seeing our Pac-12 teams next week in Arizona.”

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