Ellie Shank gets the word during practice Thursday that she and LSU teammate Kylie Deberg are All-Americans. The Tigers, from left, Brooke Blumenreich, Shank, assistant coach Cati Leak, Reilly Allred and Madison Meyers/Sierra Beaulieu photo

GULF SHORES, Alabama — Double elimination?

Old news.

With the expanded 16-team field — pared down from 17 when Texas A&M-Corpus Christi ousted UT Martin in Tuesday’s play-in match, it’s win or go home.

Here are Friday’s round-of-16 matches with quarterfinals and semifinals on Saturday. The first match is at 9 a.m. and they’re scheduled on the hour after that:

No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 17 Texas AM-Corpus Christi
No. 9 Long Beach State vs. No. 8 Cal
No. 13 FIU vs. No. 4 Florida State
No. 12 FAU vs. No. 5 LSU
No. 15 Stetson vs. No. 2 TCU
No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 7 Grand Canyon
No. 14 Georgia State vs. No. 3 USC
No. 11 Hawai’i vs. No. 6 Loyola Marymount

In previous tournaments the upsets were exciting, but almost always the top teams battled back.

“I definitely think it makes it a lot more interesting for the fans because it’s so much more of a March Madness mentality,” said Georgia State coach Beth Van Fleet, whose 10th-seeded Panthers stunned second-seeded TCU here a year ago in the second round. This year that would mean they’d be in the semifinals. But Georgia State lost its next two matches.

“For the actual athletes and humans who are competing, I don’t think it makes that much of a difference. Every single time people are stepping on the court they’re always giving their best. You don’t try harder, you don’t give more because of the situation.”

After the past two weekends, when seemingly everyone beat everyone, it gave the top teams reason to pause and the next group reason to hope.

“I’m excited,” LSU’s Kylie Deberg said. “The single-elim definitely gives it a different kind of feeling. Lose once and you’re out … You never know what’s going to happen.”

That’s not lost on her coach, Russell Brock, whose Tigers have appeared to get better and better down the stretch. A big reason is that the 6-foot-4 Deberg, who plays on the LSU No. 1 court with Ellie Shank, sprained her ankle five weeks ago while playing on Manhattan Beach.

Russell Brock talks to his team at NCAA beach practice Thursday/Sierra Beaulieu photo

“You want to be playing well when you get to this,” Brock said. “Even though we didn’t win conference (CCSA), we had some really good showings and those are the type of teams you need to be great against.”

LSU beat Florida State, lost to Grand Canyon and then TCU in the CCSA.

“I really like where we’re at,” Brock. “You want to have a great seed and I think we did enough this year to earn that 5 seed. That puts in a good spot as opposed to somewhere else where it might be a little tougher road.”

LSU, if it beats FAU, gets the FIU-FSU winner.

“And after that this year has proven that anybody can do anything,” Brock said. “So we’re ready for that.”

The NCAA took over the beach championships from the AVCA in 2016 and USC won that year and in 2017. UCLA won in 2018 and 2019, the event was canceled in 2020, and USC won in 2021 and 2022.

The matchups

(Capsules by Larry Hamel)

No. 1 UCLA vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christ

Record: 37-3 (ranked No. 1 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Stein Metzger, 11th season
The lineup in the last match:
No. 1: Kelli Greene-Agnew and Lexy Denaburg (1-0)
No. 2: Peri Brennan and Abby Van Winkle (21-0)
No. 3: Rileigh Powers and Haley Hallgren (6-2)
No. 4: Jessie Smith and Marlie Monserez (9-1)
No. 5: Jaden Whitmarsh and Devon Newberry (9-0)
Synopsis: UCLA is an automatic qualifier after winning the Pac-12 tournament, defeating ninth-ranked Cal 3-0 in the final. The Bruins were NCAA champions in 2018 and ‘19 and runner-up in 2021. UCLA’s only losses are to USC, Florida State and Stanford, and the Bruins have beaten 17 of the other 19 ranked teams.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Record: 25-9
Coach: Gayle Stammer, seventh season.
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Giuliana Poletti Corrales and Kiley Lewis (16-11)
No. 2: Chlie Tome and Kristin Bobay (18-12)
No. 3: Tori Johnson and Jade Bennett (20-11)
No. 4: Kela Moreno and Shea Slusser (3-0)
No. 5: Hannah Doyle and Maria Duda Fernandes De Melo (2-0)
Synopsis: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi won the Southland Conference tournament and its automatic NCAA bid, going 3-0 as the top seed. The Islanders beat UT Martin on Tuesday.

No. 2 TCU vs. No. 15 Stetson

Record: 35-2 (ranked No. 2 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Hector Gutierrez, seventh season
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Daniela Alvarez and Tania Moreno (28-1)
No. 2: Anhelina Khmil and Kate Privett (8-3)
No. 3: Hailey Hamlett and Sutton MacTavish (2-0)
No. 4: Maria Gonzalez and Ana Vergara (2-0)
No. 5: Hailey Brockett and Rochelle Scott (18-2)
Synopsis: TCU will make its third consecutive NCAA appearance, earning an automatic bid by winning the CCSA tournament the hard way, beating seventh-ranked Grand Canyon in the final after having been sent to the consolation bracket by the Lopes. The Horned Frogs were ranked No. 1 nationally for six weeks, from March 7 through April 11. TCU’s only other defeat came against UCLA 3-2.

Record: 20-16 (ranked No. 17 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Kristina Hernandez, 10th season
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Karin Zolnercikova and Shae Henson (24-12)
No. 2: Carolina Ferraris and Anete Namike (22-6)
No. 3: Tori Clement and Gabriella Bramante (5-2)
No. 4: Audrey Gauthier and Noelle Weintraub (5-6)
No. 5: Aleksandra Stadnik and Lauren Della (7-0)
Synopsis: Stetson booked its fourth ticket to Gulf Shores since 2016 with an automatic bid as the ASUN champion. The Hatters have a history of upsets here, most memorably when they stunned top-seeded USC in the first round of the 2019 tournament as the eighth seed. Stetson’s noteworthy victories this season came against Florida Atlantic, Georgia State and South Carolina. It is 2-5 all-time against TCU, including a 5-0 loss in late March.

No. 3 USC vs. No 14 Georgia State

Record: 28-5 (ranked No. 3 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Dain Blanton, fourth season
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Megan Kraft and Delaynie Maple (25-1)
No. 2: Madison White and Madison Shields (4-5)
No. 3: Audrey Nourse and Nicole Nourse (8-0)
No. 4: Bailey Showalter and Ashlyn Rasnick-Pope (0-2)
No. 5: Olivia Bakos and Gabby Walker (3-2)
Synopsis: USC, which received an at-large bid, has won the last two NCAA beach titles and four overall since the sport received official sanction in the 2016 season. Three of the Women of Troy’s five losses have come to archrival UCLA, the others to TCU and Cal. Despite a relatively early exit from the Pac-12 tournament, USC remains solidly in the national-title picture, with victories over UCLA, Florida State, Grand Canyon and Loyola Marymount. It is 5-0 all-time against Georgia State, including a 4-1 triumph on April 1.

Georgia State
Record: 20-16 (ranked No. 14 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Beth Van Fleet, 11th season
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Angel Ferary and Bella Ferary (17-13).
No. 2: Yasmin Kuck (10-5) and Lila Bordis (10-5).
No. 3: Kelly Dorn (9-6) and Elise Saga (9-6).
No. 4: Maddy Delmonte (18-10) and Ayla Johnson (18-10).
No. 5: Destiny White (18-9) and Aliisa Vuroinen (18-7).
Synopsis: Playing one of the toughest schedules in the country, Georgia State is an automatic qualifier into the NCAAs after winning the inaugural Sun Belt Conference tournament, posting sweeps in all four of its duals. The Sandy Panthers pulled two significant upsets in the 2022 NCAA Championship, knocking out Grand Canyon in the first round and sending TCU to the contenders bracket. Georgia State took a loss to UT Martin, but has beaten Stetson, South Carolina, Tulane and Arizona.

No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 FIU

Florida State
Record: 30-8 (ranked No. 4 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Brooke Niles, eighth season
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Maddie Anderson and Paige Kalkhoff (21-9)
No. 2: Anna Long and Jordan Polo (12-4)
No. 3: Carra Sassack and Morgan Chacon (3-2)
No. 4: Audrey Koenig and Caitlin Moon (1-0)
No. 5: Alexis Durish and Makenna Wolfe (19-1)
Synopsis: At-large entry Florida State finished second in the 2022 NCAA Championship and also were runners-up in 2016 and ‘18. The Seminoles should figure heavily in the title race even though they have lost five of their last 10 duals. FSU holds victories over UCLA, Loyola Marymount, Grand Canyon, LSU and Hawaii.

Florida International
Record: 20-16 (ranked No. 12 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Rita Buck-Crockett, 11th season
The lineup in the last match with individual overall records:
No. 1: Milica Vukobrat (23-12) and Lucie Pokorna (15-13)
No. 2: Rachele Mancinelli (22-11) and Roberta Ribeiro (18-17)
No. 3: Giada Bianchi (22-13) and Lisa Luini (22-13l)
No. 4: Zuzanna Bielak (18-16) and Alice Pratesi (22-12)
No. 5: Emily Meyer (20-14) and Kendra Brown (5-3)
Synopsis: FIU was rewarded by the selection committee for its high-powered schedule with an at-large invitation to Gulf Shores, despite losing in the C-USA tournament final to FAU. The Panthers have defeated Hawaii, Stetson, FAU, Tulane, South Carolina and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, but lost 4-1 to first-round foe Florida State. FIU has dropped 12 of its 15 duals all-time against FSU.

No. 5 LSU vs. No. 12 FAU

Record: 26-12 (ranked No. 6 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Russell Brock, seventh season
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Kylie DeBerg and Ellie Shank (20-10)
No. 2: Grace Seits and Parker Bracken (17-8)
No. 3: Hannah Brister and Reilly Allred (17-6)
No. 4: Ella Larkin and Lara Boos (21-5)
No. 5: Melia Lindner and Amber Haynes (5-4)
Synopsis: LSU has consistently been ranked between fourth and six all season and was an at-large selection out of the CCSA. The program under Brock has played in the NCAAs every season. The Tigers hold victories over Florida State, Loyola Marymount (twice), Hawaii, Florida Atlantic, Washington, Georgia State and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. LSU is 8-4 in the all-time series against FAU.

Florida Atlantic
Record: 19-13 (ranked No. 15 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Steve Grotowski, first season
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Jillienne Cloud and Julie Honzovicova (1-0)
No. 2: Ellie Austin and Christine Jarman (7-1)
No. 3: Courtney Moon and Marketa Svozilova (2-1)
No. 4: Emma Grace Robertson and Ashleigh Adams (2-1)
No. 5: Logan Mignerey and Stephanie Young (1-5)
Synopsis: FAU returns by winning the Conference USA automatic bid where the Owls defeated rival Florida International 3-1 in the final. The Sandy Owls bounced Stanford in the first round of last year’s NCAAs before being eliminated with losses to USC and Loyola Marymount. FAU includes Stetson, Tulane and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi among its victories.

No. 6 LMU vs. No. 11 Hawai’i

Loyola Marymount
Record: 28-8 (ranked No. 5 in AVCA poll)
Coach: John Mayer, eighth season
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Melanie Paul and Vihelmiina Prihti (24-9)
No. 2: Abbey Thorup and Kirstine Garder (4-3)
No. 3: Jacinda Ramirez and Isabelle Reffel (4-5)
No. 4: Cassie Chinn and Chloe Hooker (7-2)
No. 5: Madi Firnett and Isabelle Tucker (26-6)
Synopsis: Loyola Marymount went undefeated in the WCC tournament, defeating Southern California rival Pepperdine in the title dual to take its fourth consecutive league crown and earn an automatic bid. The Lions, who finished fourth in the 2022 NCAA Championships, have been ranked no lower than eighth all season. LMU’s best victories have come over Florida State, Cal, Grand Canyon and Stanford and five of its losses have been to UCLA, USC or FSU.

Record: 27-8 (ranked No. 11 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Evan Silberstein, first season (Silberstein served as interim coach in 2022)
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Brooke Van Sickle and Kaylee Glagaua (27-2)
No. 2: Kylin Loker and Riley Wagoner (17-11)
No. 3: Jaime Santer and Ilihia Huddleston (9-1)
No. 4: Lea Kruse and Sarah Burton (1-2)
No. 5: Sydney Miller and Chandler Cowell (18-6)
Synopsis: Hawai’i was awarded an at-large bid on the strength of victories over LSU, Cal, Long Beach State, Georgia State, Washington and Arizona. The Rainbow Wahine were eliminated in the first round of the 2022 NCAA tourney by Loyola Marymount and will meet the Lions again in Gulf Shores. Hawaii is 12-4 all-time against LMU. Its top pair of Brooke Van Sickle and Kaylee Glagaua is ranked No. 3 nationally by CBVB.

Stanford coach Andrew Fuller drew the plan in the sand as his team prepared for practice/Lee Feinswog photo

No. 7 GCU vs. No. 10 Stanford

Grand Canyon
Record: 26-7 (ranked No. 7 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Kristen Rohr, eighth season
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Alli Hansen and Abbie Hughes (23-8)
No. 2: Samaya Morin and Allanis Navas (18-1)
No. 3: Cami Sanchez and Anaya Evans (14-2)
No. 4: Brooke Birch and Krista Rowan (1-2)
No. 5: Jessica Drake and Dana Roskic (2-2)
Synopsis: Grand Canyon will make its second consecutive trip to the NCAAs after gaining an at-large bid. The Lopes garnered significant late-season victories over TCU and LSU in advancing to the CCSA tournament final (which it lost to the Horned Frogs) and enter the NCAA Championship with considerable momentum. Grand Canyon beat Cal (twice), Long Beach State, Georgia State, Stetson and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi during the regular season.

Record: 28-12 (ranked No. 8 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Andrew Fuller, seventh season
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Xolani Hodel and Maddi Kriz (15-4)
No. 2: Charlie Ekstrom and Maya Harvey (12-5)
No. 3: Kate Reilly and Emmy Sharp (14-3)
No. 4: Kelly Belardi and Ashley Vincent (23-4)
No. 5: Daria Gusarova and Taylor Wilson (0-0.
Synopsis: Stanford was selected at-large and knocked off UCLA during the Pac-12 tournament. The Cardinal’s worst loss was to Houston Christian. Stanford also defeated Grand Canyon, LSU, Cal, Long Beach State, Hawaii, Washington and Florida Atlantic. Stanford and GCU have split six matches all-time.

No. 8 Cal vs. No. 9 Long Beach State

Record: 28-9 (ranked No. 9 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Meagan Owusu, eighth season
The lineup in the last match and record on that court
No. 1: Sierra Caffo and Liz Waters-Leiga (6-6)
No. 2: Ashley Delgado and Ainsley Radell (17-8)
No. 3: Maya Gessner and Gia Fisher (3-1)
No. 4: Lexi McKeown and Ella Dreibholz (4-0)
No. 5: Brooke Buchner and Alex Young-Gomez (9-3)
Synopsis: At-large selection California substantially improved its resume with a strong performance in the Pac-12 tournament, during which it defeated USC 3-2 and Stanford 3-0 before falling in the title dual to UCLA. The Golden Bears had bounced between 12 and 9 in the national rankings all season. Cal also holds victories over first-round NCAA foe Long Beach State (by a 3-2 margin on March 6) and Washington. The Bears have won all four meetings all-time against The Beach.

Long Beach State
Record: 24-14 (ranked No. 10 in AVCA poll)
Coach: Mike Campbell, ninth season
The lineup in the last match and record on that court:
No. 1: Malia Gementera and Taylor Hagenah (5-0)
No. 2: Sydney Stevens and Julia Westby (7-6)
No. 3: Megan Widener and Natalie Glenn (10-6)
No. 4: Maggie Walters and Christine Deroos (6-5)
No. 5: Mari Molina and Emily Mattoon (6-0)
Synopsis: Long Beach will make its first NCAA appearance since 2017 after gaining the automatic bid as the Big West tournament champion. The Beach started the season 2-10, but went 22-4 since, with best victories over Hawaii (during the Big West tourney), Florida Atlantic, Stetson and Pepperdine. Freshmen Malia Gementera and Taylor Hagenah rank among the most intriguing pairs in the field.

The AVCA announced its beach volleyball All-Americans on Thursday. Click here for the list.


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