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UCLA beach volleyball NCAA tournament predictions 2024

Coach Jenny Johnson Jordan embraces graduate student Rileigh Powers. (Jeremy Chen/Photo editor)

By Sevginaz Gurleyici, Cecilia Schmitz, Sabrina Baker, and Lori Garavartanian

April 28, 2024 11:23 a.m.

This post was updated April 28 at 10:08 p.m.

No. 2 seed UCLA beach volleyball (32-6, 2-0 Pac-12) will once again travel to Gulf Shores, Alabama, for the chance to become a national champion, opening the tournament against No. 15 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (28-9, 7-0 Southland Conference). UCLA has been trophyless since 2019, most recently falling to USC last season. Daily Bruin Sports’ beach volleyball beat predicts if the Bruins will be able to break through this year.

Sabrina Baker
Daily Bruin staff
Prediction: Runner-up

Figuring out the best path to accurate prediction is hard – just look at how quickly March Madness brackets find flaws.

Do you look at patterns? Maybe.

If you do that for the beach volleyball national champion, you will see that the team is likely to come from one of two schools: UCLA or No. 1 seed USC.

Do you trust the rankings? Potentially.

It worked in predicting the national champions in both men’s and women’s basketball, with both the overall No. 1 seeds, UConn and University of South Carolina, taking home the gold.

If you do that for beach volleyball, it currently would be USC which is poised to win.

Do you take the team that has the least amount of losses throughout the season? Perhaps.

If you do that, the national champion will be either USC or No. 3 seed Stanford, both of which have five losses.

There is a lot to consider, but for UCLA, which holds less than half of the beach volleyball national championships compared to its crosstown rivals – who it just lost to in the conference championship match – it seems like history will repeat itself, and the Bruins will fall to the Trojans in the championship game.

Although the Bruins were atop the rankings for much of the season, they fell to No. 2 as the regular season came to a close. The Trojans then found themselves atop the crowd both in national rankings and Pac-12 championship seeding.

The trophy will likely stay in California, but is unlikely to have a resounding eight-clap with it.

Lori Garavartanian
Daily Bruin contributor
Prediction: Champions

Things were going well – a little too well.

That was until UCLA fell to USC twice in eight days and gave up the Pac-12 championship in the process.

So why will this team, a team that just turned over the final Pac-12 trophy to crosstown rivals, end up victorious at the end of this tournament?

It’s because adversity carves champions.

Prior to the loss to USC on April 18, UCLA had not lost in twenty games. It had gone a month and ten days without the feeling of loss.

Now, it has experienced that feeling twice in a little over a week. In fact, it’s an experience that’s been following the Bruins since the 2023 NCAA tournament final when they lost to the Trojans 3-2.

So again you ask: Why is this team capable of overcoming the final Trojan hurdle?

The last time UCLA won a championship in 2019, it lost to USC twice – not in a week, but in the span of two days, losing the Pac-12 championship in the process. It went on to win four straight tournament games, capping the run with a 3-0 victory against USC to secure the national trophy.

This year’s team has already proven it is capable of bouncing back from loss. After opening the year with three losses in their first tournament, the Bruins only lost one game prior to their April 18 meeting with the Trojans.

If the strongest steel is forged by fire, then the fire of two hometown losses is sure to propel the Bruins to their third NCAA championship.

Sevginaz Gurleyici
Daily Bruin contributor

Prediction: Champions

When most people think of Southern California, they think of sunshine and the ocean.

When fans of beach volleyball think of Southern California, they think of champions.

But who exactly in Southern California is the champion? That comes down to one yearly tournament: the NCAA beach volleyball championship.

Held annually in Gulf Shores, Alabama, since 2016, UCLA has taken the championship twice, while USC has taken the championship the remaining five times.

The championship title has yet to go to any other school. That trend is poised to continue.

Having faced only six and five losses this year, respectively, UCLA and USC have continued to be big-wheel teams in the world of collegiate beach volleyball.

Despite undergoing great change this past season, the Bruins have had a successful run with results of 32-6 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-12.

New head coach Jenny Johnson Jordan, a former Bruin herself, has fostered a team that has taken care of business this past season all while developing powerhouse partnerships.

Despite their loss of the title to their crosstown rivals, the Bruins have proven time and time again this season that they are capable of beating any team they face.

It is sure to be no different in Gulf Shores next week.

With the collegiate title likely coming down to one of the two Southern California schools again, UCLA is fully poised to come out of the tournament with a third national championship.

Out of the six times they have faced off in the 2024 season, both the Bruins and the Trojans have come out with three wins and three losses. Every loss for UCLA was followed by a subsequent win against its rivals.

If that pattern continues, the stage is set for the Bruins to leave the national stage with another victory under their belt.

Cecilia Schmitz
Assistant Sports editor
Prediction: Elimination in the semifinal

College beach volleyball thus far has been predictable.

Want to know who will win? Pick one of the Southern Californian powerhouses, and you have a 50% chance of being right.

Since the NCAA began sponsoring beach volleyball, only two teams have ever managed to snag the sport’s national championship – crosstown rivals UCLA and USC.

This year, however, change is afoot.

The college sports world has transitioned.

West Coast schools are now midwestern. A Big Ten team claimed the football national championship instead of one from the Southeastern Conference. The same change in the universe’s balance is in store for beach volleyball.

The beach volleyball national championship will see two newcomers to its stage: Stanford and No. 7 seed California. They will exact revenge on the Pac-12 for leaving them behind and forcing them to migrate to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

These two Northern California schools will each dethrone the queens of the sand for the very first time, leaving the Los Angeles titans stranded in the semifinals.

UCLA will still go far, and it won’t go down without a fight. However, the college sports gods demand a sacrifice for the upending of order – the Bruins and the Trojans both will be offered up at the altar.

Balance to the force will be restored.

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Sevginaz Gurleyici
Cecilia Schmitz | Assistant Sports editor
Schmitz is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the women’s soccer, beach volleyball, women’s golf and cross country beats. She was previously a contributor on the women’s soccer and beach volleyball beats and a staffer for the Outreach section. She is also a third-year political science and communication student.
Schmitz is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the women’s soccer, beach volleyball, women’s golf and cross country beats. She was previously a contributor on the women’s soccer and beach volleyball beats and a staffer for the Outreach section. She is also a third-year political science and communication 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.
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