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Bruins in Paris

UCLA beach volleyball completes Senior Day sweep as regular season nears end

Members of No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball gather to celebrate Senior Day for its four graduate students. (Brandon Morquecho/Photo editor)

By Sevginaz Gurleyici

April 11, 2024 10:39 a.m.

Students and parents alike waited on the sidelines of Mapes Beach to cheer on UCLA at its final home beach volleyball matchup of the season.

And led by the graduate student quartet of Rileigh Powers, Jaden Whitmarsh, Devon Newberry and Lexy Denaburg, the Bruins put on a show for their fans.

“This feels like my home, so I think that’s the harder, or the hardest, part about it,” Denaburg said. “I think I was just excited to come in today and have one last game with everyone.”

No. 1 UCLA beach volleyball (24-4, 1-0 Pac-12) had a victory-filled Senior Day with two clean sweeps against No. 7 Long Beach State (21-5, 6-2 Big West) and Cal State Northridge (16-15). The seniors who played in the tournament all left Mapes Beach with wins in their individual matches.

“I think the team wants it to be an extra special day for them (the seniors),” Coach Jenny Johnson Jordan said. “There’s a lot of love on our team, and so I think that shows not only in how they play, but also how they support each other.”

In a duo-based sport like beach volleyball, that supportive environment carries over to the dynamics of the individual partnerships as well.

For the duo of Denaburg and sophomore Maggie Boyd, the former said it is the trust in each other’s consistency that is important to the dynamic of their partnership.

“I feel like we just show up and approach every single game the same no matter who we’re playing, and I think it’s just really great to have that consistency in a partner,” Denaburg said. “She’s amazing, and she’s so amazing at that (consistency), so I’m very lucky.”

The court one pair ended with 2-0 wins against the Beach and the Matadors. After going to match point four times against CSUN, Denaburg ultimately concluded her Senior Day with a match-point kill.

Another partnership highlighted their grit on court one in their matchup preceding Denaburg and Boyd’s.

After losing their first set 21-15 to the Beach on Tuesday morning, Newberry and senior Peri Brennan bounced back from the experience to come back and end the day with a 2-1 win against Long Beach and a 2-0 win against CSUN, concluded with a walk-off ace by Brennan.

Newberry said going through both ups and downs together is important to her and Brennan’s partnership.

“I think it was so good for us because I never felt wavered by that (loss),” Newberry said. “We’re a new partnership, so going through every single experience together is what we need before NCAA’s. That was just another opportunity to work through it.”

With the Pac-12 championships on the horizon, UCLA has two matchups remaining to prepare for the postseason.

Johnson Jordan said the upcoming Center of Effort Challenge tournament this weekend will be important in readying the team for the NCAAs.

“At this point, we have to finish strong,” Johnson Jordan said. “That tournament in Cal Poly has a lot of top teams in the country, and so it’s not the kind of tournament you want to think you’re going to cruise through. It’s going to be the same competition we would see at nationals, and so we want to be prepared and ready for that.”

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