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Bruins in Paris

No. 2 seed UCLA beach volleyball sets up to defend title at Pac-12 championships

No. 2 seed UCLA beach volleyball comes together in a team celebration. (Jeremy Chen/Photo editor)

By Sabrina Baker

April 23, 2024 12:05 p.m.

This post was updated April 23 at 8:57 p.m.

Seven years have lapsed since a team last won back-to-back Pac-12 championships.

This week, the Bruins will have the chance to break that drought.

No. 2 seed UCLA beach volleyball (29-5, 1-0 Pac-12) will have the chance to defend its 2023 conference title at the Pac-12 championships in Tempe, Arizona, from Wednesday to Friday. No. 1 seed USC (29-4) is the most recent back-to-back champion after winning in 2016 and 2017, and will be one of eight teams the Bruins must overcome in their pursuit of the conference crown.

“I like the way we’re playing, but I know we have more in our tank,” said coach Jenny Johnson Jordan. “It’s going to be my job as the coach to push them to capacity these last few weeks and to get everything possibly out of them.”

The Bruins and Trojans are the only two teams to have won the Pac-12 tournament as well as a national championship. The two rivals faced each other less than a week ago to close out their regular season, with USC winning 4-1.

Despite losing in three sets, graduate student Devon Newberry said the match gave her confidence.

“I wasn’t playing my game, and I was just giving away points,” Newberry said. “That’s what we’re so excited about coming off that loss is I know when I’m playing my best and Peri (Peri Brennan) is playing her best, it’ll be like that first set was.”

Last season, UCLA worked its way out of the contenders bracket to come back and claim the conference title, defeating then-No. 3 seed California in the championship game.

This season, the Bruins have faced the No. 4 seed Golden Bears twice this season, winning both duels.

Johnson Jordan said it is beneficial that the team has faced so many of their conference foes already.

“A lot of it, too, is about strategy,” Johnson Jordan said. “We did this last time, they’re going to do that next time. Trying to anticipate some of those things too, as well as develop a strategy.”

The weather in Tempe is predicted to be hot, especially on Wednesday with the high being 93 degrees Fahrenheit.

Graduate student Lexy Denaburg said the team is used to back-to-back matches and tiresome weather conditions.

“For the time we have off, I think it’s super important to rest and recharge for however long we have, whether it’s 10 or 20 minutes,” Denaburg said. “But then, once we get back into game mode, we just ramp up our own energy again.”

UCLA will begin its first duel against No. 7 seed Arizona on Wednesday morning.

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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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