The journey to the NCAA beach Volleyball Championship in Gulf Shores began in earnest this past weekend as teams began to test each other at tournaments from Hawai’i to Florida.
UCLA and LSU came out the biggest winners among the teams in the AVCA top 20.
Speaking of which, the first regular-season poll came out Monday, and, not surprisingly, UCLA stayed No. 1, while USC, which hasn’t played, stayed No. 2. LSU jumped from seventh to No. 4.
TCU dropped out of the rankings, while Saint Mary’s moved in at No. 20.
Click here to view the complete AVCA poll.
UCLA won 19 of 20 of its matches in Hawai’i, while LSU won at Florida State. Those results follow, but first, a look at the key matches in the week ahead and many involve the top teams facing each other.
No. 1 UCLA and No. 13 Loyola Marymount head to No. 2 USC on Wednesday.
Then Saturday UCLA goes to the Pac-12 South Beach Invitational at No. 14 Arizona. The field includes USC, No. 12 Stanford, No. 11 Cal, Oregon, and Arizona State.
Loyola goes to CSUN on Thursday for duals against CSUN and Vanguard.
No. 3 Florida State heads to the FAU Beach Burrow Bash Friday and Saturday in Boca Raton, Fla., joining LSU, No. 10 South Carolina, No. 18 Florida Atlantic, and UAB.
Third-ranked Pepperdine is home for its Zuma Classic on Saturday with a field that includes No. 8 Long Beach State, CSUN, and CSU Bakersfield.
No. 6 Hawai’i is idle but heads to Manhattan Beach on March 9 for the East Meets West Challenge.
No. 6 Cal Poly is also off, but will play host to CSUN and CSU Bakersfield on March 9.
Tenth-ranked Florida International gets a week off before making a trip west to meet Concordia on March 8 and then plays in the East Meets West.
No. 13 Georgia State is off to the Horned Frogs Challenge on Saturday at TCU to join No. 17 Tulane, No. 19 Grand Canyon, TCU, and Missouri State.
When the sand settled in Hawai’i, UCLA was 5-0 after winning four times, three by sweeps. Hawai’i was 2-2, Stanford 0-4 and Saint Mary’s 1-3.
The only match UCLA lost was against Pepperdine, when the No. 4 pair of Maddie Dilfer and Alexis Filippone beat Mac May and Savvy Simo 21-19, 21-16. UCLA won in straight sets in 13 of its 20 matches.
Pepperdine had 3-2 dual wins over Hawai’i and Stanford and swept St. Mary’s.
Hawai’i beat Stanford (3-2) and St. Mary’s (4-1) but lost to UCLA (5-0) and Pepperdine( 3-2).
St. Mary’s swept Stanford, but lost to Hawai’i 4-1, and were swept by both UCLA and Pepperdine.
Stanford finished 0-4 after two 3-2 losses to Hawai’i and Pepperdine and 5-0 losses to UCLA and St. Mary’s.
At the Home2 Suites Hilton-Tallahassee State Capitol Invitational, Florida State’s tournament, LSU scored 3-2 dual wins over Cal Poly, Florida State, and South Carolina, while sweeping Tulane 5-0. The win over Florida State was the first in the program’s history as the No. 1, 2 and 5 pairs of Claire Coppola-Kristen Nuss, Olivia Powers-Ashlyn Rasnick-Pope, and Allison Coens-Hunter Domanski had victories for the Tigers.
Host FSU finished 3-1 by defeating Tulane (5-0), Cal Poly (4-1), and South Carolina (4-1).
Cal Poly beat Tampa (5-0), Tulane (4-1), and South Carolina (4-1), while dropping duals to LSU (3-2) and Florida State (4-1).
A little more than 200 miles east, FIU (4-0), Georgia State (2-2), Stetson (3-1), Eckerd (0-4), and Saint Leo (1-3) met at the Cooper Beach Courts in Deland, Fla. FIU won all four of its duals 5-0.
Cal was the host for Santa Clara and San Francisco at the Clark Kerr Sand Courts in Berkeley. The Bears got off to a 2-0 start after sweeping both, spoiling Santa Clara coach Jeff Alzina’s debut. The Bears went 20-0.
San Francisco edged Santa Clara 3-2.
Moving South, No. 14 Arizona (3-0) hosted Colorado Mesa (1-2), Benedictine University (0-3) , and Boise State (2-1) at the Cactus Classic in Tucson.
Arizona swept Colorado Mesa and Benedictine University and beat Boise State 3-2.
About 100 miles away in Phoenix, No. 16 Grand Canyon (1-2) hosted LMU (3-0), Arizona State, and New Mexico. The Lions were undefeated after a 3-2 win over GCU and sweeps of ASU and New Mexico.