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Weekend in Preview: April 4

Redshirt freshman Ensley Alden reaches to pass the ball. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Felicia Keller, Sabrina Baker, Jeremy Chen, and Ira Gorawara

April 4, 2024 12:42 p.m.

Beach volleyball
Sabrina Baker, Daily Bruin staff

Rainy weather looms over the Bruins’ Pacific Northwest trip.

No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball (19-4, 1-0 Pac-12) will travel to Alki Beach in Seattle to compete in the Pac-12 North Invitational from Friday to Saturday, where rainy conditions are predicted.

This will be the second Pac-12 Invitational of the 2024 season. The Bruins split results at Pac-12 South Invitational with three wins and one loss to No. 2 Stanford (18-2, 1-1).

This weekend, UCLA will face No. 7 California (15-7), Utah (16-8, 0-3) and No. 18 Arizona (15-4, 2-2).

Redshirt freshman Ensley Alden said previous wins help motivate her for future matchups.

“We’ve got three more, four more teams to play this weekend,” Alden said. “Knowing that we have succeeded previously against these teams, it just reminded us a little that we deserve to be on this team.”

After last weekend’s sweep by Alden and her partner, junior Natalie Myszkowski, the pair was awarded the Pac-12 Pair of the Week – the first time either athlete received the recognition.

The pair has only one loss out of 21 matches playing together.

“It’s because we are putting in the work,” Alden said. “But at the same time, you can’t take it too seriously.”

The Bruins will kick-off their Pac-12 play at 11 a.m. on Friday.

Junior Alexander Hoogmartens punches a forehand (left), while his coach, Billy Martin, instructs during a game (right). According to Martin, Hoogmartens provides an infectious winning spirit for UCLA men’s tennis. (Left to right: Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff, Brianna Carlson/Daily Bruin)

Men’s tennis
Jeremy Chen, Daily Bruin senior staff

Tennis is a game of momentum – like most other sports.

Leads of three points, four games and even two sets can be reduced to rubble if a player gets going.

After back-to-back losses – their third and fourth in five matches – momentum might finally be swinging back in the Bruins’ favor.

No. 25 UCLA men’s tennis (8-6, 1-2 Pac-12) is traveling up to the Pacific Northwest this weekend, facing Oregon (12-9, 1-2) and Washington (7-10, 1-2). First serves are set for 1:30 p.m. on Friday and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.

The Bruins are fresh off of a 4-1 victory over the Trojans, which snapped their two-game skid and brought back a familiar face. Alexander Hoogmartens had been out of the lineup since March 17, but the junior came back into form against USC and clinched UCLA’s win with an ace right down the T.

“It’s (my serve is) what I practice on every day,” Hoogmartens said. “It’s probably one of the most important shots of my game.”

The victory against their crosstown rivals came after the Bruins only mustered one win during their five-game homestand against top-25 teams. Battling against Oregon and Washington – both unranked – gives UCLA a chance to get above .500 in Pac-12 play.

Coach Billy Martin said the team is excited to have its co-captain back on the court and added that Hoogmartens might be the renewed energy UCLA needs to turn the tide.

“With Alex (Hoogmartens) in our lineup, I think we all truly, truly felt that we really had a very good chance to win the match,” Martin said. “That’s kind of the feeling I had personally, I think our coaches did, and I think it trickled on down to the guys playing and the guys off the court.”

Freshman Kaitlyn Terry swings her arm during a pitch. (Myka Fromm/Photo editor)

Softball
Felicia Keller, assistant Sports editor

Another Oregon squad awaits the Bruins.

No. 12 UCLA softball (20-8, 6-2 Pac-12) will take on Oregon State (15-19, 3-6) for its fourth conference series of the season from April 5-7. Both teams lost to No. 9 Washington this year – UCLA dropped the series 2-1, while Oregon State was swept.

After last weekend’s shortened series against Oregon due to a rain cancellation – where UCLA left 11 batters on base in the second match – coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said she has emphasized quality at bats to her team.

“We’re really focusing on coming through with runners in scoring position, and it’s just by having a quality at bat,” Inouye-Perez said. “And we did much better this weekend (against Oregon) than we did last weekend (against Washington).”

While Oregon State sits seventh in the Pac-12, it has the lowest RPI in the conference and ranks 89th nationally.

The Beavers have shared the load across three pitchers, each with over 55 innings pitched. Ellie Garcia leads the way, with a 2.51 ERA, slating in nearly even with Bruin sophomore Taylor Tinsley’s 2.52 ERA.

Tinsley and freshman Kaitlyn Terry will likely split time in the circle as they have throughout Pac-12 play.

First pitch in Corvallis will come at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Members of a UCLA rowing eight boat cut through the water. The Bruins will compete in their first invitational of the season Saturday. (Myka Fromm/Photo editor)

Rowing
Ira Gorawara, assistant Sports editor

UCLA’s quarter system deals its athletes a unique trump card this time of year.

The end of winter quarter ushers a weeklong escapade – often enjoyed in Cabo’s beaches or Las Vegas’s casinos.

But this year’s Bruins leveraged their hiatus from academia elsewhere.

“We’re on spring break right now, and it’s later than most schools,” said coach Previn Chandraratna. “We see this as an opportunity to make our jump and become more cohesive. We’re going to take this extra time to do a little extra drilling, a little extra training and a little extra team bonding.”

UCLA rowing will commence spring quarter in Gold River, California, for the Lake Natoma Invitational on Saturday. After an exhibition meet against California and a tri-meet against USC and Loyola Marymount, the Bruins’ 2024 slate now features three consecutive invitationals leading up to Pac-12 and NCAA championships.

Spring’s interlude allowed teams time to review and hone in on conspicuous defects in their tri-meet.

“The race revealed various avenues for improvement,” Chandraratna said after UCLA’s tri-meet. “The varsity eight needed to get out of the blocks better. The varsity four and second varsity four needed to hold their base speed better. We’ll definitely be making those adjustments.”

Improving initial acceleration and effectively sustaining pace will lie at the forefront of the Bruins’ endeavors in this weekend’s invitational. But beyond the technical aspects of competition, developing camaraderie and team unity is integral to the advancement of this Bruin force.

And in a year where UCLA’s 66-women roster features 40 underclassmen, team synergy could be its ace in the hole.

“Really just chemistry, just figuring out the little things and moving together and working together,” said senior port Rosemary Varney. “Once we nail that, which we will, Lake Natoma will be a very good race across all boats.”

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Felicia Keller
Keller is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men’s soccer, swim and dive, women’s water polo, and softball beats. She was previously a contributor on the swim and dive and women’s water polo beats and a contributor in the News and Photo sections. She is also a second-year sociology student.
Keller is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men’s soccer, swim and dive, women’s water polo, and softball beats. She was previously a contributor on the swim and dive and women’s water polo beats and a contributor in the News and Photo sections. She is also a second-year sociology student.
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.
Chen is a Photo editor and a sports contributor on the men's tennis beat. He is a fourth-year cognitive science student pursuing a minor in film, television, and digital media, and he is from Alameda, California. He was previously an assistant Photo editor on the Sports beat.
Chen is a Photo editor and a sports contributor on the men's tennis beat. He is a fourth-year cognitive science student pursuing a minor in film, television, and digital media, and he is from Alameda, California. He was previously an assistant Photo editor on the Sports beat.
Ira Gorawara | Assistant Sports editor
Gorawara is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men's volleyball, women's volleyball, men's tennis and rowing beats and is a Copy contributor. She was previously a reporter on the men's volleyball and rowing beats. She is also a second-year communication and economics student.
Gorawara is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men's volleyball, women's volleyball, men's tennis and rowing beats and is a Copy contributor. She was previously a reporter on the men's volleyball and rowing beats. She is also a second-year communication and economics student.
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