Things promise to be interesting at the top of NCAA beach volleyball this season.

Second-ranked LSU, playing before a record home crowd of 2,407, beat No. 1 UCLA again in on Saturday, while No. 4 USC lost to No. 17 South Carolina.

In NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball, No. 4 Long Beach State had to go five to win at No. 12 UCLA, and there was one minor upset in the MIVA as McKendree won in four at No. 14 Purdue Fort Wayne.

There is more beach volleyball around the country on Sunday, including at LSU and Hilton Head, but just two men’s matches on tap as St. Francis Brooklyn plays twice.

LSU beats UCLA: They’ve played three times. UCLA won the previous Saturday to open the NCAA beach season in Hawai’i, but LSU came back and won last Sunday to win the Hawai’i tournament title. This time, after LSU had swept Houston Baptist earlier Saturday and UCLA swept Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and beaten Tulane 4-1, they squared off before as big a crowd as there’s likely been for an on-campus NCAA beach match.

LSU won at No. 4 when Taryn Kloth and Kelli Agnew improved to 7-0 this season with a 21-17, 21-17 win over Devon Newberry and Rileigh Powers, but UCLA squared it as Madi Yeomans and Megan Muret beat Hunter Domanski and Allison Coens 21-9, 18-21, 15-11.

LSU went up 2-1 when the No. 1 pair of Kristen Nuss and Claire Coppola downed UCLA’s Abby Van Winkle and Savvy Simo 21-18, 22-20.

Then both the No. 2 and No. 3 courts went to a third set. Ultimately, LSU won it at No. 2 when Jess Schaben and Sydney Moore beat Lindsey Sparks and Lexi Denaburg 22-20, 15-21, 15-11. The match ended on an attack that UCLA and most observers thought was in, but the official ruled out. 

After a mild LSU celebration and a soft protest by UCLA, the teams watched as UCLA’s Lea Monkhouse and Lily Justine closed it out at No. 3 with a 19-21, 21-19, 15-11 over Ashlyn Rasnick-Pope and Toni Rodriguez.

“This was just unreal,” said Schaben, a first-time beach player who transferred as a graduate student after a standout four-year career at Iowa State.

“This was more important for this community and our athletic department and our program in this city than it was for our season,” said LSU coach Russell Brock, pointing out that there’s a long way to go after just the second weekend of this beach season. 

“I mean, you want to win these matches, but to have the marketing department do such an incredible job and to entice these people to come out for this 1-2 matchup and have it be what it was, it will reverberate for the rest of the season and maybe for the rest of our program. Because there are people here who never would have been here before and now they’re going to come back.

“It’s what we hoped would happened when we built this and when we started this program. Super exciting from that respect. From the match perspective, we’ve got to be better and we know that.”

While UCLA was finished, LSU on Sunday will play Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Tulane and Springhill.

“Russell has done great things with this program,” UCLA coach Stein Metzger said. “I know I voted for them to be No. 1 in the beginning of the year. They’ve got maturity, great senior leadership and I knew they were going to be if not the team to beat but a really tough team to beat and they’re proving that now early in the season.

“And I think that’s good for our squad, too, because it makes us get back to the drawing board and see where we need to get better. There’s still the majority of the season left and a lot of opportunity for both teams to get better.”

UCLA and LSU will play again in April on Manhattan Beach and, very likely, at the NCAA Championship the first weekend of May in Gulf Shores, Alabama. 

“I like to see a school that hasn’t had the opportunity to be at the top get there,” said Metzger, whose team won the last two NCAA titles. “I think it’s great for the sport. But certainly at the end of the year we’re going to be fighting and scratching to be there and we’d love to take this team down.”

Click here for complete results from LSU, and here for UCLA’s results.

The other USC beats USC: In Hilton Head, South Carolina, Southern Cal opened its season with a 5-0 win over College of Charleston, but then got knocked off by South Carolina as the host team came away with a 3-2 victory.

Things don’t get any easier for Southern Cal as it plays twice Sunday, first against No. 10 Grand Canyon and then No. 3 Florida State.

Speaking of which, Florida State earlier swept South Carolina and Grand Canyon, while GCU beat Charleston.

“This season is so young, we’re learning an incredible amount about our team from match-to-match,” South Carolina coach Moritz Moritz said. “With the caliber of teams we’ve been playing to this point, it might’ve been easy to be discouraged with the adversity that comes with facing such elite opponents, match after match. Tonight was one of those moments we’ll tell stories about 20 years down the road. Playing in Hilton Head Island, right on the beach, the dual ending just as the sun finally set? How can you ask for more?”

For full recaps and the scores, click here for more from Southern Cal, here for more from Florida State, and here for more from South Carolina

NCAA mens beach 3/1/2020-Hawaii beach volleyball-
Hawai’i’s Pani Napoleon extends for a dig during action Saturday/UH Athletics

More beach: No. 5 Hawai’i won twice Saturday at Stanford, beating Saint Mary’s and Arizona State. Click here for the complete Hawai’i results and recap. The SandBows play Utah on Sunday before facing No. 20 Stanford. Stanford also beat Saint Mary’s and ASU on Saturday. Click here for the results

Saturday was a good day for No. 18 Florida Atlantic. The Owls upset No. 7 Stetson and beat St. Petersburg. Click here for the FAU recap and scores … But it was a tough day for No. 6 Pepperdine, which lost twice, falling 3-2 to No. 9 Loyola Marymount and then 3-2 to Cal Poly. Click here for the Pepperdine results and scores … Later Saturday Cal Poly edged LMU. Click here for the Cal Poly recap of Saturday 

No. 11 Cal beat visiting Utah and UC Davis. Click here for results of the 5-0 sweeps 

No. 13 Arizona swept Stephen F. Austin to improve to 7-0. Click here for more 

And No. 15 TCU swept Abilene Christian and beat Nebraska 4-1. Click here for the TCU recaps and results. Nebraska also beat ACU.

NCAA men beach 3/1/2020-UCLA mens volleyball-Cole Power
UCLA defensive libero Cole Power digs a line swing back over to the Long Beach side/Ed Chan,

NCAA men: Long Beach State of the Big West (9-1) won at UCLA of the MPSF (8-8) 25-21, 16-25, 25-17, 25-23, 15-13. Ethan Siegfried led with 5 kills, four blocks and nine digs, Spencer Olivier had 12 kills, two assists, three blocks and six digs, and Simon Andersen had 10 kills, three blocks and three digs. Shane Holdaway had nine kills and hit .727 to go with seven blocks, two solo, and Marc Moody had seven kills, hit .667 and had five blocks. And Carlos Rivera had two kills in three errorless attempts, 45 assists, three blocks and nine digs. His team hit .417 and had three aces and 18 errors.

“I thought we did a nice job,” Long Beach State coach Alan Knipe said. “Last time we played these guys at our place, we got out-blocked 13 to 2 or something. Our guys worked incredibly hard this month to make sure we’re getting better in some of these areas and own the mistakes that we made, and the things that we can control, to get better at them every day.

“These are really great matches. Obviously, two really good teams, playing hard, so many talented athletes out there, doing some spectacular things.”

UCLA hit .250 and had 11 aces and 19 errors. Mads Kyed Jensen led with 14 kills, hitting .370, and had 26 assists, five aces, four blocks and two digs. Daenan Gyimah had 13 kills and Austin Matautia and Alex Knight nine each … 

The other Big West team in action, No. 3 UC Santa Barbara (12-2) hit .456 and won at USC of the MPSF (3-13) 27-25, 25-21, 27-25. UCSB had three aces and 13 errors. Randy DeWeese led with 20 kills, hit .515, and had four digs and two solo blocks. Ryan Wilcox had eight kills, hit .467, and had two aces, five digs and two blocks.

“It was a battle. We got lucky in the end,” UCSB coach Rick McLaughlin said. “USC played very well. They received serve at a high level, we might not have served tough enough, but I thought they did a really good job, and were ready to go.

“I love (USC’s) North Gym. It’s my favorite place to play, I used to play games here, the crowd is so close to the court, it’s so loud, you get the crowd going, the band, it’s fun. It’s a fun place to play.”

USC, which hit .365 and had four aces and 19 errors, got 11 kills each from Kyle Gear and Billy Fauntleroy and 10 from Vecas Lewin … 

There was one MPSF match Saturday as No. 2 BYU (16-0, 6-0) beat visiting No. 13 Stanford (6-9, 2-4) 25-12, 25-21, 25-22 to build its lead atop the standings to two games over idle No. 8 Grand Canyon. BYU, playing before 5,817, its largest home crowd since 2005, hit .329 as Gabi Garcia Fernandez led with 12 kills. He hit .364 and had three of his team’s seven aces, four digs and six blocks. Zach Eschenberg had eight kills, an assist, an ace, four digs and six blocks. BYU had 10 serving errors. Stanford hit .114, had four aces and 11 errors. Jaylen Jasper led with 10 kills, four digs and a block …

Tenth-ranked Penn State (11-6, 7-0) and No. 11 Princeton (9-5, 7-1) are leaving the field behind in the EIVA. 

Penn State won its seventh match in a row as it swept visiting Charleston (4-11, 2-5) 25-11, 25-20, 25-16. The Nittany Lions hit .356 and had a whopping 14 aces and 17 errors. Jason Donorovich had four kills, hit .429, six of those aces, a dig and two blocks, one solo. Brett Wildman led with nine kills and he had an ace and two digs. Charleston hit .037.

“I thought this was a great culmination of the weekend,” said Penn State coach Mark Pavlik, whose team beat George Mason on Friday. “It was a great culmination of five matches in eight days. I thought we started rolling last weekend in game three with our physicality and it just kept climbing. I thought our serve and pass game was as good as its been. I think more than anything else we’re just a tough team to play against.”

Princeton swept Harvard (9-5, 3-3) 25-20, 26-24, 25-17 as it hit .476 and had seven aces and 15 errors. George Huhmann led with 14 kills, hit .542, and had two assists, two aces, a block and four digs. Alexander Mrkaij and Greg Luck had nine kills each. Luck had no errors in 10 swings, two aces, a dig and two blocks, one solo. Harvard hit .379 and had four aces and 10 errors. Campbell Schoenfeld led with 10 kills, an ace and seven digs .. 

Also in the EIVA, NJIT (8-5, 3-3) swept Sacred Heart (4-8, 0-7) and No. 15 George Mason (9-7, 4-3) won at Saint Francis (5-11, 2-5). NJIT’s Julian Meissner had 15 kills and hit .583 and Alvaro Gimeno had 15 kills, six digs and two blocks, one solo. Their team hit .304 and had five aces and 14 errors. Sacred Heart hit .110 … Mason hit .257 and had eight aces and nine errors. Sam Greenslade led with 12 kills and three aces and 11 digs, and Jack Reese had 10 kills, hit .818, and had six blocks, two solo. Michael Fisher had 22 kills and hit .444 for SFU, which hit .201 and four aces and 16 errors. Fisher had five digs and a solo block. AJ Schmidt had 11 kills, six digs and four blocks … 

First-place and No. 5 Lewis won again as the Flyers (13-4, 6-1 MIVA) won their sixth in a row, a 25-15, 25-20, 25-15 win over Loyola (6-11, 3-4). Lewis hit .481 and had seven aces and 10 errors. Ryan Coenen led with 19 kills and hit .704 after having no errors in 27 attacks. He had two assists, two aces and 10 digs. Tyler Mitchem had 11 kills and hit .444 and Kevin Kauling had two kills in five errorless tries, 37 assists, a block and a dig. Loyola hit .224 and had five aces and 10 errors … 

McKendree (10-7, 4-3) upset Purdue Fort Wayne (8-6, 3-4) 25-22, 25-23, 24-26, 28-26 despite hitting .232. Ethan Carroll led with 22 kills, two aces, nine digs and two blocks, one solo. Zach Schnittker had 13 kills, 11 digs and four blocks, one solo, and Wyatt Dimke had eight kills and eight blocks, two solo. Tyler Poulsen had four kills in 11 errorless tries, 49 assists, an ace, five blocks and 11 digs. PFW hit .205 and had an ace and nine errors. Jon Diedrich led with 21 kills and hit .327 to go with eight digs and five blocks, one solo, and Pelegrin Vargas had 15 kills, four blocks and 11 digs … 

Lindenwood (11-6, 4-2) beat visiting Ohio State (10-7, 2-4) 25-15, 21-25, 25-20, 29-27. Diego Negron had 15 kills and hit .429 for Lindenwood and teammate Phil Swartz had 14 kills, hitting .722. Alex Pappas had no kills but seven blocks. Their team hit .272 and had two aces and 24 errors. Ohio State hit .116 and had three aces and 23 errors. Reese Devilbiss had 13 kills, six digs and three blocks, and Martin Lallemand had 11 kills, six digs and two blocks …

Also in the MIVA, Ball State (10-6, 3-3) beat Quincy (4-13 1-4) in a match with no aces as Blake Reardon had 15 kills and hit .407 to go with seven digs and two blocks, one solo. Kaleb Jenness had 11 kills and Matt Szews 10. Ball State hit .273 and had no aces and 10 errors. Quincy hit .120 and no aces and 11 errors … 

In Conference Carolinas there were two league matches as Barton (13-2, 8-0) kept its two-game lead atop the standings as it swept third-place King (7-9, 5-3) and second-place Mount Olive (12-7, 7-2) did the same to Lees-McRae (2-11, 1-6). Mount Olive and Lees-McRae both later swept St. Francis Brooklyn. 

Barton hit .520 as Angelos Mandilaris and Nicolo Mancin had 13 kills each and Adrian Iglesias had 12 kills kills. Barton had five aces, four by Mandilaris, and 11 errors. King hit .234 had two aces and seven errors, and got 12 kills from Joshua Kim … In Mount Olive’s win over Lees-McRae, it hit .388 and had three aces and 13 errors. Tobi Azeez led with 13 kills and hit .500 to go with an ace, seven digs and three blocks, one solo. Lees-McRae hit .072.

NCAA men beach 3/1/2020-UCLA mens volleyball-Daenan Gyimah
UCLA’s Daenan Gyimah spike’s through the hands of LBSU’s Spencer Olivier/Ed Chan,

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