Long Beach State’s Maria Molina has to focus through the rain on this dig against Cal/Matt Smith photo

GULF SHORES, Alabama — The NCAA’s National College Beach Volleyball Championship is never boring. 

If it’s not the weather, it’s the matches.

Neither disappointed here Friday.

There was rain that delayed the action for an hour, 40 minutes, some serious wind that was quite a factor all day, a minor upset, and, as you would expect, some wonderful action in the single-elimination tournament.

And then weather again, which kept 11th-seeded Hawai’i and No. 6 Loyola Marymount from playing their match.

Now, Hawai’i-LMU will start at 8 a.m. Central Saturday, followed by:

Cal’s Alex Young-Gomez is soaked and ready to serve/Matt Smith photo

— No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 8 Cal. UCLA swept Cal just a week ago in their only meeting this season.

— No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 5 LSU. FSU beat LSU 3-2 on two occasions in March and 4-1 in early April, but LSU won 3-1 last week in the CCSA tournament.

— No. 2 TCU vs. No. 10 Stanford. This will be the first meeting between the teams this year.

— No. 3 USC vs. Hawai’i-LMU winner. The last match of Friday got held up 

The semifinals follow with the championship match on Sunday.

The tournament started just after 9 a.m. Friday, but by then it was overcast and bad weather was imminent. By the time UCLA finished sweeping Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, everyone was pretty wet.

UCLA coach Stein Metzger was thrilled not only to win and win quickly, but also beat the weather. 

“No question,” he said. “We get to sit back and other people have to wonder, ‘When am I up? Am I up? What’s the day gonna look like?’ The longer you sit around the more it kind of turns around in your mind about what’s gonna happen in the game.

“To be able to get up and to and finish that match was great for us.”

UCLA clinched with victories on No. 1 (Lexy Denaburg-Maggie Boyd) No. 2 (Abbie Van Winkle-Peri Brennan) and No. 4 (Marlie Monserez-Jess Smith) and  in about 40 minutes.

UCLA’s Jade Whitmarshx/Mark Rigney photo

“You never know how your team is going to come out for the first match,” Metzger said. “I thought they took care of business. We certainly didn’t take that team lightly. That team had a good match yesterday and we came out up and ready to rock and roll and people played free, which is you want to see.”

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, which won the Southland Conference’s automatic bid, won a play-in match here Tuesday when the 17th-seeded Islanders swept UT Martin of the Ohio Valley Conference. TAMUCC ended its season 25-10.

Long Beach State’s Sydney Stevens dives through the rain/Michael Gomez photo

It was still raining — at times pretty hard — but play resumed at 11:40 a.m. and eighth-seeded Cal beat No. 8 Long Beach State 3-2 for the program’s first NCAA tourney victory ever. Cal got wins at No. 2 by Ashley Delgado, No. 3 by Maya Gessner and Gia Fisher and clinched it with a victory on Court 4 by Lexi McKeown and Ella Dreibholz, who beat Long Beach’s Maggie Walters and Christine Deroos 21-14, 19-21, 15-8.

“We’ve been in those elements before this year,” said Cal coach Meagan Owusu, whose team improved to 29-9. “It’s a challenge and can be a distraction, but if you stay focused on what’s most important you can be successful through those elements.”

Long Beach ended its season 24-15.

Florida State, which had lost three of its last five matches, improved to 31-8 as the Seminoles overpowered 13th-seeded FIU 3-1. The Panthers ended their season 20-17.

LSU’s Ella Larkin/Michael Gomez photo

LSU got past 12th-seeded Florida Atlantic 3-2, clinching on Court 4 as Ella Larkin and Laura Boos won 21-16, 19-21, 15-10 over Emma Grace Robertson and Ashleigh Adams. LSU is 27-12; FAU ended 19-14.

TCU (36-2) made short work of No. 15 Stetson (22-15) winning 3-0 with victories on Courts 1, 3 and 5. The Horned Frogs clinched with victories on Court 1 by Danelia Alvarez and Tania Moreno (who are 32-1 this season), Court 3 by Sutton MacTavish and Hailey Hamlett and on Court 5 by Rochelle Scott and Hailey Brockett.

Stanford improved to 29-12 as it upset seventh-seeded Grand Canyon, a team it beat earlier this season. The Cardinal won 3-2 as GCU ended its season 26-8. It was the first NCAA tourney victory for Stanford and it came on Court 4 when freshmen Kelly Belardi and Ashley Vincent rallied for a 17-21, 21-17, 15-13 win over Brooke Birch and Krista Rowan. Stanford’s Emmy Sharp and Reilly won on Court 3 and Taylor Wilson and Daria Gusarova won on 5.

Then, while it was still sunny but another storm heading this way, USC knocked out 13th-seeded Georgia State in a quick 3-0 outcome. USC is 29-5, while the Sandy Panthers ended their season 20-17.

On Court 1, USC juniors Megan Kraft and Delaynie Maple got revenge for their only loss of the season with a 21-18, 21-18 win over Angel Ferary and Bella Ferary. USC also got wins from the Nourses, Audrey and Nicole, and Olivia Bakos and Gabby Walker.

GCU’s Krista Rowan and Brooke Birch look on as Stanford’s Ashley Vincent digs/Stephen Burns photo


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