This is our weekly report on NCAA beach volleyball:
Team of the Week
How about TCU? The Horned Frogs are 15-0 after traveling to Hawai’i and going 6-0 to win the Outrigger Queen’s Cup. TCU opened with a sweep of Nebraska, beat Cal 4-1, beat UC Davis 4-1, then knocked off host Hawai’i 4-1. In the semifinals, TCU beat UC Davis 4-1 again, and then did in the same in the final over Cal.
“This was a long weekend, the girls just killed it,” TCU coach Hector Gutierrez said when the tourney ended Saturday. “Two duals per day since Thursday, dealing with the conditions. We made a lot of changes in the lineup to rest people but everyone that stepped onto the court for us did a great job.
“It was a really good level of volleyball for three days. Everyone here was going after us but we were just better. We had to mentally prepare differently for this tournament because we were the top ranked team, we were the ones everyone was trying to beat but they couldn’t because of how hard our girls prepared. I’m really proud of the team. This was a great weekend and a great week for TCU.”
As TCU noted, its No. 1 pairing of Daniela Alvarez and Tania Moreno won all six of their matches to improve to 14-1. They won all 12 of their sets by an average margin of 6.6 points (21-14.4).
Pair of the Week
Things were pretty chilly in Columbia, South Carolina, last weekend, but the home team’s Skylar Allen and Whitley Ballard stayed hot. The South Carolina pair won their first match Friday against Pepperdine’s Melanie Paul and Madison Shields, and then beat the No. 1 LSU team of Ashlyn Rasnick-Pope Pope and Bella Bauman. USC won the Pepperdine match 4-1, but their win was the lone bright spot in a 4-1 loss to LSU.
On Saturday, Allen, a 5-foot-9 junior from Callisburg, Texas, and Ballard, a 5-8 senior from Solana Beach, California, swept opponents from Louisiana-Monroe and Mercer when the Gamecocks won both duals 5-0.
Most Noteworthy Result
South Carolina beat Pepperdine for first time in school history, but then lost to LSU.
“I was happy with the energy we came out with, and I think the excitement of being home translated to our energy playing against a team we’ve had opportunities to beat in the past but just couldn’t quite get over the hump. We played really well, it was fun to watch the girls compete in that way,” South Carolina coach Moritz Moritz said Friday.
“LSU’s a really good team, but I believe we left some things on the table tonight that maybe could’ve turned the tide and had we taken advantage of them. There are a lot of things to be excited about with this team. We have a roster full of kids who are hungry and ready to compete, so at any given moment someone has to be ready to step in and step up. We’re not even remotely close to as good as I believe we can be, but where we are now in our third weekend is a good spot. Obviously, we would like to have a few more wins under our belt, but the way we’re developing now is going to pay off down the line.”
Storylines to note
Cal splits with Hawai’i at Outrigger Cup: There is lots of parity on the West Coast now. After obvious leaders (USC, UCLA, LMU, GCU), there’s a peloton of Cal, Hawai’i, Cal Poly, Long Beach, Pepperdine
USC responds well to first loss: The defending national champions went to the Stetson Sun-N-Sand Invitational in Deland, Florida, and beat three ranked teams and a Division II power: USC beat Florida State 3-1, FAU 3-0, Tampa 5-0, and Stetson 5-0.
LSU’s No. 3 loves three-setters: Holly Carlton and Reilly Allred are now 13-0, five of which have come in the third set, including another three-set win over Pepperdine’s Peyton Lewis and Juju Quintero. The LSU Court 2 pair of Parker Bracken and Kylie Deberg were named the AVCA national pair of the week. LSU is 13-0 this season and Bracken, a 5-10 freshman from Ridgeland, Mississippi, and Deberg, the 6-4 graduate-student transfer from Missouri who led LSU in kills indoors last fall, went 4-0 at South Carolina.
San Jose State takes two courts off Cal Poly: The Spartans couldn’t break through with a win but made things interesting. San Jose State opened at Cal Poly last Friday by losing 5-0 to Arizona State, but then gave Cal Poly all it could handle in a 3-2 loss. They stayed tough against Washington on Saturday, losing 3-2, and then lost 5-0 to Loyola Marymount.
UC Davis wins two off Hawai’i: The Broncos had a heck of a Saturday, beating Nebraska 3-2, losing to TCU but taking a court off the Horned Frogs 4-1, and then gave the home team, Hawai’i, all it could handle in a 3-2 loss.
GCU continues strong start: The Lopes went 3-0 at home and won 5-0 all three times as they beat Abilene Christian, Texas A&M-Kingsville and Missouri State and stand 8-2. Their only losses were to USC and UCLA.
Sneaky Tulane is 11-2: The Green Wave has quietly put itself into East at-large consideration. Last week Tulane beat UAB, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Houston Baptist, Nicholls and New Orleans.
This week in NCAA Beach Volleyball
Wednesday — USC stays in Florida and plays at FIU in Miami, where is also plays Florida Gulf Coast.
Saturday-Sunday — The March to May, a tournament in the same place as the NCAA Championships in May, Gulf Shores, Alabama. It’s a loaded field. LSU, for example, plays Georgia State, Grand Canyon, Florida Atlantic, South Carolina, and finishes up with UCLA. UCLA’s schedule includes playing Florida State. FSU plays Stetson, GCU and South Carolina.
Also this weekend: TCU is home Friday and Saturday for New Orleans, Arizona State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Louisiana-Monroe
Cal Poly plays host Sunday and Monday to Southern Miss, Houston Baptist, Pepperdine, Boise State, Cal and Arizona.
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