NCAA beach: UCLA awaits USC-LSU winner in title match

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UCLA's Nicole McNamara hits a cut shot against LSU's Claire Coppola/Tim Britt photo

GULF SHORES, Ala. — LSU coach Russell Brock shook his head.

“UCLA didn’t get here by accident,” he said at the National Collegiate Beach Championship. “They’re really good.”

And the defending national champion proved it again Saturday as the second-seeded Bruins sent fifth-seeded LSU into Sunday morning’s NCAA elimination match against USC, which advanced by ousting Hawai’i.

The USC-LSU match will be played at 9:30 a.m. Central and shown on ESPN2.

The winner will play UCLA for the NCAA title at 1 p.m. Central on ESPN.

The NCAA decided Friday that with inclement weather forecast in this area for Saturday morning to move the matches five hours earlier and all went smoothly on a relatively cool, breezy, overcast day. It actually started sprinkling about 20 minutes after the last ball hit the sand.

Saturday’s action started with USC beating Florida State 3-1. Then Hawai’i beat Stetson 3-0 before UCLA did the same to LSU. And then USC put it to Hawai’i 3-0.

Among the Bruins who won was senior Sara Sponcil, who will devote all her time to pro beach volleyball after this weekend. She and Lily Justine won at No. 2, beating LSU’s Olivia Powers and Kelli Agnew 21-9, 21-17.

UCLA coach Stein Metzger knows the drill. His Bruins won it all last year, breaking USC’s hold on the tournament, including the first two (2016, 2017) NCAA titles.

Conversely, LSU has to beat USC to get to UCLA again. The teams met once this season, on March 10 on Manhattan Beach, and USC won 4-1.

USC’s Molly Ebertin not only won at No. 5 with Cammie Dorn, but was celebrating her birthday.

USC coach Anna Collier, who has seen it all, was proud of the way her team bounced back from getting upset by Stetson on Friday, the first time a No. 8 seed has beaten a No. 1.

Finally, Hawai’i coach Jeff Hall put a “Sandbow” on his team’s season. He couldn’t have asked for more.

USC (30-5) 3, Florida State (29-7) 1
1. Abril Bustamante/Tina Graudina (USC) def. Alaina Chacon/Madison Fitzpatrick (FSU); 21-15, 21-15
2. Terese Cannon/Sammy Slater (USC) def. Sara Putt/Payton Rund (FSU); 21-14, 21-19
3. Haley Hallgren/Alexandra Poletto (USC) def. Brooke Kuhlman/Avery Poppinga (FSU); 24-22, 21-17
4. Joy Dennis/Maja Kaiser (USC) vs. Payton Caffrey/Molly McBain (FSU); 21-19, 19-21 susp.
5. Macy Jerger/Kate Privett (FSU) def. Cammie Dorn/Mollie Ebertin (USC); 21-16, 21-12
Order of finish: 1, 5, 2, 3
Hawai’i (28-10) 3, Stetson (30-10) 0
1. Emily Maglio/Amy Ozee (UH) vs. S. Helland-Hansen/Carly Perales (STET) 21-17, 13-21, 5-3, unfinished
2. Ari Homayun/Julia Scoles (UH) vs. Darby Dunn/Sammee Thomas (STET) 21-13, 19-21, 2-7, unfinished
3. Morgan Martin/Pani Napoleon (UH) def. Ana Costa/Rachel Noble (STET) 21-15, 21-18
4. Hi’ilawe Huddleston/Kylin Loker (UH) def. Sam Harris/Julie Varga (STET) 21-14, 21-15
5. Norene Iosia/Sofia Russo (UH) def. Quinci Birker/Rebecca Ingram (STET) 21-14, 22-20
Order of finish: 4, 3, 5
UCLA 3 (34-3), LSU (31-7) 0
1. Nicole McNamara/Megan McNamara (UCLA) vs. Claire Coppola/Kristen Nuss (LSU) did not finish
2. Sarah Sponcil/Lily Justine (UCLA) def. Olivia Powers/Kelli Agnew (LSU) 21-9, 21-17
3. Zana Muno/Abby Van Winkle (UCLA) def. Toni Rodriguez/Ashlyn Rasnick-Pope (LSU) 21-15, 21-12.
4. Maddie Yeomans/Savvy Simo (UCLA) vs. Olivia Beyer/Maddie Ligon (LSU) did not finish
5. Izzy Carey/Linsey Sparks (UCLA) def. Allison Coens/Hunter Domanski (LSU) 21-8, 21-18
Order of finish: 2, 3, 5
USC (31-5) 3, Hawai’i (28-11) 0
1. Tina Graudina/Abril Bustamante (USC) vs. Emily Maglio/Amy Ozee (UH) 24-22, 13-14, unfinished
2. Terese Cannon/Sammy Slater (USC) vs. Ari Homayun/Julia Scoles (UH) 22-20, 16-7, unfinished
3. Alexandra Poletto/Haley Hallgren (USC) def. Morgan Martin/Pani Napoleon (UH) 21-14, 22-20
4. Joy Dennis/Maja Kaiser (USC) def. Hi’ilawe Huddleston/Kylin Loker (UH) 21-14, 21-15
5. Cammie Dorn/Mollie Ebertin (USC) def. Norene Iosia/Sofia Russo (UH) 21-17, 21-16
Order of finish: 4, 3, 5

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