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Bruins in Paris

UCLA beach volleyball sweeps Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, advancing to round 2

Junior Natalie Myszkowski digs the ball. Myszkowski and partner redshirt freshman Ensley Alden sealed the Bruins’ victory on court 5. (Brandon Morquecho/Photo editor)

Beach Volleyball


No. 2 seed UCLA3
No. 15 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi0

By Sabrina Baker

May 3, 2024 12:51 p.m.

This post was updated May 3 at 1:49 p.m.

Newton’s third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

For No. 2 seed UCLA (33-6, 2-0 Pac-12) in the first half of its first sets of the NCAA tournament, it seemed Newton’s third law came to fruition. That was until the Bruins won the match 3-0. Before the victory was sealed, however, almost every court went back and forth with points. UCLA would score a point, then No. 15 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (28-10, 7-0 Southland) would score.

But, as it happens in volleyball, one pair eventually pulled away.

The Bruins won three of the five first sets on courts one, three and five. On court three junior Jessie Smith and redshirt-freshman Kenzie Brower won their first set 21-14 – the biggest point differential out of all the UCLA pairs in the first set.

Smith said these decisive sets help create comfortability.

“It’s really windy here which we’re not used to,” Smith said. “So when we have a lead like that, it helps ease down a little bit.”

Junior Natalie Myszkowski and redshirt-freshman Ensley Alden won their first set 21-15 on court five, while graduate student Lexy Denaburg and sophomore Maggie Boyd defeated the Islanders’ No. 1 pair 21-16 in the first set.

Myszkowski said it felt incredible to be playing at NCAAs.

“I actually felt right at home on court five back there,” Myszkowski said. “It was really fun.”

Brower and Smith were the first pair to put a win on the board for the Bruins, winning their second set 21-13.

Smith said getting the first team point was reassuring.

“Everytime we’re playing, we’re playing for our team,” Smith said. “It felt good to put a point on the board for our team, and also it was my partner’s first in a championship. So that was really awesome for her to get the first point too.”

Denaburg and Boyd followed court three’s win, with a 24-22 win in the second set to seal the Bruins’ second point after some back and forth.

Sophomore Maggie Boyd leaps to reach the ball. After battling for the second set point, Boyd and partner graduate student Lexy Denaburg secured the second point on the board for UCLA. (Brandon Morquecho/Photo editor)

UCLA’s 3-0 victory was secured by a 21-17 second set win by Myszkowski and Alden on court five.

Myszkowski said winning quickly is important given the tournament’s three-day duration.

“In this tournament we don’t play to completion,” Myszkowski said. “So the other teams aren’t going to finish out their sets. In this type of weather, when it’s so hot and being out here, every second is going to take some of your energy.”

The other two courts, made up of graduate student Devon Newberry and senior Peri Brennan as well as senior Tessa Van Winkle and graduate student Jaden Whitmarsh, both came back to win their second sets before their matches were truncated.

Coach Jenny Johnson Jordan said both pairs settled into their play in the second set.

“When you play a new team for the first time too, it’s like you got to figure them out, as well as your own game,” Johnson Jordan said. “I told them beforehand, it’s going to be a seesaw back and forth, and then once we get in our rhythm, we’ll be fine.”

Last year, the Bruins also faced the Islanders in the first round of the NCAA tournament, when they recorded the same result. Unlike last year’s rainy weather, this year, the skies were blue and clear.

Myszkowski said the squad is ready for any type of weather.

“This year we’ve played in every sort of weather, freezing cold to boiling hot,” Myszkowski said. “Either way, windy or not, I was ready to get out there and kick some butt.”

UCLA will face the winner of No. 10 Long Beach State and No. 7 California on Saturday at 9 a.m.

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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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