NCAA beach volleyball: LSU sits, USC and UCLA tinker with lineups, Tampa wins it all

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Washington's Callie Weber runs down a dig/Stephen Burns photo

The biggest news of the week in NCAA college beach volleyball was something that didn’t happen.

LSU canceled its trip to the Florida State Invitational in Gulf Shores, Alabama, due to COVID protocols, but the Tigers are able to participate in this weekend’s CCSA championship.

On the West Coast, UCLA and USC continue to tinker with lineups in an effort to find synergy in the run-up to the NCAA championship in Gulf Shores May 7-9, with most league championships this weekend.

As usual, we cover the happenings inside of the AVCA top 10, the latest poll, pairs of the week, undefeated pairs, and some notes from around the nation.

No. 1 USC (22-2)
USC’s new pairings at courts 1 to 3 proved their mettle this week in San Luis Obispo, adding four wins to their totals. The Trojans swept Grand Canyon and Cal Poly, a 4-1 win against Loyola Marymount and a 3-2 win over UCLA. 

The Trojans were especially strong at the 2, 4, and 5 pairs, with Julia Scoles and Sammy Slater, Joy Dennis and Delaynie Maple, and Audrey and Nicole Nourse going 4-0.

The new pairing of Tina Graudina and Megan Kraft went 3-1, losing only to UCLA’s Lexy Denaburg and Savvy Simo. USC’s new No. 3 of Haley Hallgren and Hailey Harward were also 3-1, losing to Loyola’s Jessie Prichard and Savannah Slattery.

Next up: USC tests itself at UCLA Thursday in preparation for the Pac-12 championships April 29-May 1.

No. 2 UCLA (24-2, 10-0)
UCLA went 3-1 at the Center of Effort Challenge in San Luis Obispo. The Bruins’ wins and losses were by identical 3-2 scores, beating Grand Canyon, Loyola Marymount and Cal Poly before losing to USC. The loss snapped a UCLA 21-match win streak, bookended by losses to USC. 

UCLA experimented with two new pairings, with Devon Newberry and Lea Monkhouse on court 2 against USC and 3 against Cal Poly, while Jacqueline Quade and Cami Sanchez debuted on court 4. 

Newberry and Monkhouse lost on court two against USC but defeated Cal Poly at the threes, while Quade and Sanchez split, winning against Poly and losing to USC.

Next up: It’s a light week for the Bruins, whose only match is against USC at home Thursday. 

No. 3 Florida State (28-4, 17-1)
Florida State capped its regular season with four wins at the FSU Invitational in Gulf Shores. The Seminoles swept Southern Miss before inclement weather canceled the remaining Saturday matches, then returned Sunday to sweep Tulane and defeat TCU twice 4-1 and 3-2.

Next up: FSU competes in the CCSA championship, with its first match against UNCW.

No. 4 LSU (22-5)
LSU did not travel to the FSU Invitational in Gulf Shores this weekend, citing COVID-19 concerns, but will be able to compete in the CCSA Championship Friday and Saturday in Huntsville, Ala.

No. 5 Loyola Marymount (22-6)
John Mayer’s Lions had a busy 2-4 week. Wednesday they faced UCLA twice, losing 3-2 and 4-1. LMU then went 2-2 on the weekend at Cal Poly, with a 4-1 win over Grand Canyon and a 3-2 win over Cal Poly but losing 4-1 to USC and 3-2 to UCLA.

Next up: This weekend Loyola will face Stanford, San Jose State, Grand Canyon and Cal in preparation for the WCC Championships April 30-May 1.

No. 6 Cal Poly (17-8)
Cal Poly went 1-3 at home in the Swanson beach volleyball complex, defeating Grand Canyon 3-2 but losing 3-2 to UCLA and Loyola Marymount and being swept by USC.

Poly’s top two of Macy Gordon and Emily Sonny, Amy Ozee and Jayelin Lombard were a bright spot for the Mustangs Sunday, winning both matches against UCLA and LMU.

Next up: Cal Poly remains at home for a pair of WCC foes in Santa Clara and Saint Mary’s on Saturday.

No. 7 TCU (23-6, 15-2):
TCU went 2-2 at the FSU Invitational, sweeping Southern Miss and Tulane but dropping a pair to Florida State despite a trio of rain delays. The Frogs’ have set two program records this season with 23 victories and 10 sweeps. Hailey Brockett had a program-record 21st career win at No. 2.

Next up: TCU is off to the CCSA championships April 23-25.

No. 8 Grand Canyon (16-9):
Grand Canyon went 0-4 in Cal Poly this weekend, with losses to UCLA (3-2) and USC (5-0) Loyola Marymount (4-1) and Cal Poly (3-2). 

Next up: GCU has a weekend trip to Stanford for duals against Cal, San Jose State, Loyola Marymount and Stanford.

No. 9 Arizona (20-4):
Arizona went 4-0 on its Pacific Northwest tour. First the Wildcats went to the Boise State Invitational Friday, sweeping Utah and defeating Boise State 4-1. At the University of Washington Invitational, Arizona scored identical 4-1 wins over Washington and Hawai’i.

Next up: Arizona goes to neighbor Arizona State for a dual Thursday.

No. 10 Cal (13-9):
Cal won three of four at Stanford this weekend, beating St. Mary’s (4-1) and Pepperdine (3-2) but splitting with Stanford (winning 4-1, losing 3-2) to win the Pac-12/WCC challenge.

“We’ve had pairs here and there get hot for a set or two,” interim head coach Derek Olson said. “I thought that today was the first day where all five pairs played well all day. For both duals, we had a really good day from the top pair to the exhibition.”

AVCA poll
There was minor movement in this week’s poll, with no team moving more than two places. USC resumed its top spot after its second head-to-head win over UCLA, receiving all 17 first-place votes. Florida and LSU switched after LSU’s COVID cancelation.

Teams 5-9 (Loyola Marymount, Cal Poly, TCU, Grand Canyon and Arizona) stayed steady.

Cal bumped up two spots to No. 10, while Stanford dropped one to 11. FIU moved incrementally from No. 13 to No. 12. 

Pepperdine continued to fall, dropping two spots to No. 13. FAU, Hawai’i, Long Beach State, Georgia State, and Arizona State maintained at 14-15 and 18-20.

Stetson and South Carolina traded spots, with Stetson now at No. 16, South Carolina at No. 17.

Also receiving votes: Florida Gulf Coast, St. Mary’s, Tulane, Coastal Carolina, and DII Tampa.

NCAA college beach volleyball 4/21/2021-Julia Oswald-Tampa beach volleyball
Julia Oswald of Tampa jousts against Spring Hill’s Patty Blood/Tim Britt, techandphoto.com

Pairs of the Week
AVCA: Tampa’s Julia Oswald and Rachel Rosequist received the honor after leading the Spartans (19-11) to back-to-back Small College Beach Championships in Tavares, Fla. The honor is the pair’s second. They are 19-9 this season.

CCSA: FIU’s Ali Denney and Lina Bernier got the honor on April 14 after an undefeated weekend, helping the program to their first-ever defeat of Florida State. The honor is the first for the court three pair, FIU’s 11th.

Big West: Hawai’i’s Amber Igiede, who is on the beach for the first time in her career, and Brooke Van Sickle ran up a 5-0 record at the Husky Invitational. The duo has won six of their seven matches in straight sets, and is on an eight-match win streak after a 4-6 start.

Undefeated pairs
There are still three. At the top slot, Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth were unable to put their record on the line for LSU this week due to COVID.

Two No. 4 pairs are still unbeaten. Grand Canyon’s Allanis Navas and Paula Hoffman extended their win streak to 18-0 with wins over LMU, GCU, UCLA and Cal Poly, while FIU’s Abbie Hughes and Paige Kalkhoff added two wins to go to 13-0. 

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Tampa celebrates its back-to-back AVCA Small College beach volleyball championship/Tim Britt, techandphoto.com photo

Around the Nation:
Tampa won back-to-back Small College Beach Championships in Tavares, Fla.. The sandy Spartans (19-11) defeated Texas A&M Kingsville 3-2 in the semifinals, then Spring Hill College 3-0 in the final.

Ottawa repeated as NAIA beach champions

Ottawa topped Vanguard 3-2 in the NAIA national championship. The victory was their first in four tries against conference rival Vanguard (all four were 3-2 duals), with the Spirit repeating their 2019 championship. Ottawa finished by winning eight of its last nine matches.

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Sacramento State’s new beach volleyball facility, Hornet Beach

Sacramento State unveiled its new on-campus beach volleyball facility April 16. Dubbed Hornet Beach, the four-court, 26,000 square foot facility can accommodate 250 spectators. 

“We are extremely excited about an on-campus facility to practice and compete,” coach Ruben Volta said. “It’s a beautiful and spacious complex, and the four courts allows us to host multi-team events.”

Chattanooga clinched its first program DI and Ohio Valley Conference win as the Mocs defeated Austin Peay 3-2 in Jacksonville, Ala. Top pair Baylee Young and Jordan Krege won their sixth consecutive match.

Cal State Bakersfield hosted a pairs tournament with CSUN Friday. All six Roadrunner pairs advanced to the medal rounds, with CSUN’s Darbi Honeycutt and Mikaela Maughan winning gold, Bakersfield’s Cameron Solberg and Milica Vukobrat silver, and Bakersfield’s Jazleigh Ortiz and Ericka Snopko bronze.

Coastal Carolina (22-6) picked up four more wins at the Blazer Beach Bash this weekend, defeating Central Arkansas (3-2), UAB (3-2), ULM (4-1) and Mercer (3-2), setting a new program record for single-season wins, beating the old record of 21 in 2019.

The Chants next match will be the ASUN beach volleyball championship April 23-25 in Deland, Fla.

College beach volleyball 4/21/2021

Eastern Kentucky (0-5) hosted its first-ever home beach volleyball match Tuesday with a pregame ceremony featuring university dignitaries. EKU fell to in-state rival Morehead State 5-0.

Speaking of Morehead State (4-0), the Eagles opened their beach volleyball season Saturday, winning four matches against their OVC opponents UT Martin (4-1), Chattanooga (3-2), Austin Peay (3-2) and Jacksonville State (3-2).

Santa Clara (5-2) had an undefeated three-win weekend, defeating USF (3-2), San Jose State (3-2) and Sacramento State (5-0).

UAB (12-13) won three of four matches at the Blazer Beach Bash, beating Mercer (4-1), Central Arkansas (3-2) and ULM (3-2) but losing to Coastal Carolina (2-3). The five conference wins are the most in program history.

Oregon (6-9) set a program record with six wins, defeating Portland twice (5-0 and 4-1) but losing to Washington (5-0 and 3-2). The previous record was five wins, set in 2019.

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Tampa’s Kelley Hamilton spikes in the Florida rain/Tim Britt, techandphoto.com

 

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