NCAA beach: UCLA stays unbeaten, a look at top teams’ week ahead

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Shannon Williams-South Carolina-Gamecocks-NCAA beach volleyball 3/21/2019
South Carolina senior Shannon Williams takes a right side swing against USC as Cadie Bates looks on/South Carolina photo

Top-ranked and undefeated UCLA played just once, while No. 2 USC had mixed results in NCAA beach volleyball last week.

UCLA got to 15-0 when it swept visiting No. 5 Pepperdine and is back in action Saturday when it plays Oregon and No. 13 Loyola Marymount on Santa Monica’s Ocean Park Beach.

USC (13-2) was upset by No. 11 South Carolina 3-2. It got wins at No. 1, where Cadie Bates and Shannon Williams snapped USC’s Abril Bustamante and Tina Graudina’s 11-win streak, defeating them 19-21, 21-14, 15-12; No. 5 by Hanna Edleman and Jess Vastine; and No. 5 by Whitley Ballard and Caroline Skaff defeated Mollie Ebertin and Maja Kaiser.

USC bounced back in the competition in Atlanta by beating No. 19 Georgia State and No. 8 FIU. The Trojans play at Arizona State this week to face No. 5 Pepperdine, No. 6 Hawai’i, and the home team.

No. 3 Florida State (11-4) had the week off, but will entertain No. 15 Arizona and Austin Peay Friday, and then take on No. 10 Stetson Saturday.

Fourth-ranked LSU (9-4) played the first match at its new LSU Beach Stadium and swept Coastal Carolina on Friday with about 550 fans on hand, luckily to have covered seating because it rained.

The Tigers are home again this weekend and play North Florida and Tulane on Friday and then No. 19 Georgia State and Southern Miss on Saturday.

Before losing to UCLA, Pepperdine (11-5) was at home in Zuma Beach on Wednesday, sweeping No. 20 TCU and No. 13 LMU. They were tested by No. 7 Cal Poly, but the Waves’ No. 5 pair of Simone Priebe and Katie Gavin defeated Cal Poly’s Heather Pembroke and Sjea Anderson 21-15, 19-21, 15-12 to clinch the dual 3-2.

Pepperdine played No. 9 Long Beach State on Wednesday. Long Beach had sweeps last week of Irvine Valley and Missouri State and is home against Washington and Nebraska Friday, and then No. 14 Stanford and Colorado Mesa on Saturday.

No. 6 Hawai’i held its Heineken Hawai’i Invitational this past weekend, winning 3-2 against No. 12 Cal. Hawai’i’s No. 4 pair of Kylin Loker and Pani Napoleon clinched the match by defeating the Bears’ Madison Dueck and Alexia Inman 21-18, 17-21, 18-16. Hawai’i followed that up with sweeps of Boise State and Nebraska. That set up the tournament bracket, with Hawai’i sweeping Nebraska and Cal sweeping Boise State to set up a Hawai’i-Cal rematch in the finals.

It was a 3-2 outcome again, and Hawai’i’s No. 4 pair Hi’ilawe Huddleston and Kylin Loker defeated Cal’s Madison Dueck and Alexia Inman 21-15, 17-21, 17-15.

Ari Homayun became the winningest player in the history of the Sandbows program with 96 dual wins, surpassing Ka’iwi Schucht’s record of 94. 

This week Hawai’i has a busy weekend in Arizona, playing GCU, Pepperdine, and ASU on Friday, and then USC and Arizona State again on Saturday.

Cal Poly (6-5) also beat Missouri Valley State 5-0, Concordia Irvine 4-1, and split with LMU (losing 1-4, winning 3-2). The Mustangs now go to Fort Worth, Texas, for the Fight in the Fort and will face Houston Baptist and TAMUCC on Saturday, and No. 20 TCU and Central Arkansas Sunday.

FIU (6-5) was home in Fort Lauderdale and beat No. 16 Florida Atlantic 4-1 but lost to USC. The No. 5 pairing of Lina Bernier and Erika Zembyla were the bright spot for the Panthers, defeating both FAU’s Megan McGrath and Jiliene Cangelo 22-20, 24-22 and USC’s Molly Ebertin and Maja Kaiser 21-19, 21-13.

FIU’s next contest is at the FAU Beach Bash Saturday, where it plays Tampa and North Alabama.

No. 10 Stetson (12-3) had seven victories last week. 

The Hatters defeated UAB, Georgia State, No. 11 South Carolina, and No. 16 Florida Atlantic by identical 4-1 scores. They also swept Eastern Kentucky and Southeastern as well as facing Florida Atlantic again on Tuesday, winning 3-2. The Stetson top pair of Sunniva Helland-Hansen and Carly Perales, the AVCA pair of the week, closed out the match when Helland-Hansen served an ace to defeat FAU’s Carly Scarborough and Nicole Navarro 21-15, 19-21, 15-9.

Stetson heads to Tallahassee and plays Austin Peay and No. 15 Arizona on Friday, and the home team, Florida State, on Saturday.

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