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Weekend in Preview: March 7

UCLA women’s water polo coach Adam Wright yells to his team. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Elise Oliver, Ava Abrishamchian, and Sabrina Baker

March 7, 2024 3:03 p.m.

Women’s water polo

Ava Abrishamchian, Daily Bruin reporter

The Bruins will face a new opponent over the weekend.

No. 1 UCLA women’s water polo (15-0, 2-0) will take on Biola (6-11) in regular season play Saturday afternoon for the two teams’ first-ever matchup. Following the game, the Bruins will play in the annual Alumni game at Spieker Aquatics Center.

UCLA will look to follow up its 13-9 performance against No. 13 Indiana (14-3, 0-1) and continue its undefeated streak.

Freshman goalkeeper Lauren Steele said the team is looking to take games one at a time.

“With the one game, it gives us a lot more of an opportunity for preparation and recovery, ” Steele said. “I think our strategy doesn’t really change at all, … so if anything, it’s easier. We just have a single game compared to a tournament, so I’d say, ‘Don’t try to change too much or overthink too much.’”

Previously this season, Biola lost to both No. 3 Stanford and No. 6 Fresno State.

Coach Adam Wright said the team is looking to focus on details.

“When you go into a tournament, you have got to prepare for a lot of different opponents, which takes away time from working on yourself,” Wright said. “The next couple of weeks, we are in a position to get really well in the areas that we have got to get better at, and then obviously to deal with Biola.”

(Zimo Li/Daily Bruin)
Graduate student Devon Newberry readies to pass the ball. (Zimo Li/Daily Bruin)

Beach volleyball
Sabrina Baker, Daily Bruin staff

Desert sands are in the Bruins’ future.

No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball (8-3) will take on its conference foes – No. 2 Stanford (7-1), No. 10 Arizona State (6-0), No. 14 Washington (3-5) and Oregon (1-7) – in the Pac-12 South Invitational at the Sun Devil Beach Volleyball Facility in Tempe, Arizona from Friday to Saturday.

Coach Jenny Johnson Jordan said the team’s tournament experience continues to build throughout the season.

“That’s going to prepare us for down road when teams continue to get better,” Johnson Jordan said. “You’ve already been somewhat battle tested.”

The Bruins have faced the Cardinal twice already this season. Both matchups occurred at the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Beach Classic – both teams’ first tournament of the season – where UCLA lost the first, but won the second en route to winning the tournament.

The only Bruin duo to win in both bouts against the Cardinal was senior Peri Brennan and graduate student Devon Newberry.

Newberry said her newfound partnership with Brennan has been strong.

“I will always be pretty high energy and positive,” Newberry said. “I need that from a partner and Peri is the exact same way.”

In 2023, the Bruins won three of four matchups at the Pac-12 South Invitational, falling to then-No. 4 USC in their final matchup of the tournament.

UCLA will kick-off its Pac-12 play on Friday at 9 a.m.

(Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Junior Kimmi Hance swings to hit a backhand. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Women’s tennis
Elise Oliver, Daily Bruin contributor

The Bruins are set to capitalize on their home-court advantage this weekend, steering clear of the Achilles’ heel of most Southern California tennis players: indoor courts.

No. 19 UCLA women’s tennis (5-3) will host two opponents from up north, with a contest against Washington State (8-2) on Friday and a duel against Washington (10-4) on Saturday. This tandem represents the first taste of conference play for the Bruins, who are fresh off of a 5-2 victory over then-No. 8 USC.

Junior Kimmi Hance said UCLA’s win over its crosstown rival has left the team ready to take on conference play.

“We’re feeling really good right now, especially after beating USC,” Hance said. “We’re just hoping it doesn’t rain and that we can keep it rolling.”

The Bruins have won their last five matches against the Cougars and boast a perfect 11-0 record against them at home. However, they have encountered recent struggles against the Huskies, as they were dealt a narrow 4-3 loss in their last regular-season matchup and were swept 4-0 in last season’s Pac-12 quarterfinals.

Despite UCLA’s difficulties in stringing together wins against Washington, coach Stella Sampras Webster said she is confident in her team’s abilities to face the challenges ahead.

“We just need to focus more on ourselves than our opponents,” Sampras Webster said. “If we do what we’re supposed to and compete the way we’re supposed to compete, we’re in a good place.”

Home-court advantage may prove to be a key difference-maker in these upcoming matches. In last year’s road trip, UCLA was forced to adjust on both Washington State’s and Washington’s indoor courts – where there is a faster pace of play. Sampras Webster said she is looking forward to the familiar terrain at the LATC.

“Playing at home and outdoors, we’re going to hopefully take advantage of that,” Sampras Webster said. “We’re excited to compete and be challenged.”

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Elise Oliver
Sabrina Baker | Sports contributor
Baker is currently a Sports contributor on the swim & dive beat.
Baker is currently a Sports contributor on the swim & dive beat.
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