No. 1 UCLA Set to Defend Back-to-Back NCAA Titles
LOS ANGELES -- No. 1 UCLA (28-3), the back-to-back defending NCAA Champions (2018 and 2019), heads to Gulf Shores, Ala., to defend its titles. The Bruins have had to wait 733 days to open their title defense. UCLA will open play on Friday, May 7 with the first match of the day at 7:00 a.m. PT/10:00 a.m. ET against No. 8 TCU (26-8) on ESPNU. The Bruins are 2-0 all-time against the Horned Frogs with both meetings taking place in the East Meets West Challenge hosted by UCLA at the Manhattan Beach Pier. UCLA won 4-1 on March 11, 2018, and 5-0 on March 10, 2019. All 14 of the matches at the 2021 NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship will be televised live on the ESPN family of networks. All eight matches on May 7 will be on ESPNU with remaining matches on May 8-9 on ESPN2.
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE
Opponent: No. 8 TCU (26-8) WATCH
Location: Gulf Place | Gulf Shores, Ala.
Date: Friday, May 7, 2021
Time: 7:00 a.m. PDT/10:00 a.m. EDT
Series History: UCLA leads 2-0
Streak: Won 2
Last Meeting: W 5-0 (March 10, 2019 at East Meets West Challenge - Manhattan Beach Pier - hosted by UCLA)
RECAPPING THE LAST OUTINGS
UCLA won its second Pac-12 Championship title in program history on May 1, 2021. The Bruins opened with a 3-0 win over Washington on April 29 and then advanced to championship Saturday with a 3-0 win over Arizona on April 30. On May 1, second-seeded UCLA defeated No. 1 USC 3-1 in the winner's bracket final and then 3-2 in the Championship final. UCLA's court five pair of Rileigh Powers and Jaden Whitmarsh clinched both dual victories over the Trojans on Saturday with straight-set wins over Audrey and Nicole Nourse (now 24-3 on the year).
BRUINS WITH TOUGHEST SCHEDULE OF NCAA FIELD
UCLA has arguably the toughest strength of schedule in the country, as the Bruins have already faced six of the seven other teams in the NCAA Championship field a total of 17 times in 2021, going 14-3 (.824) in those contests. Those 17 duals against the NCAA field makes up over half of UCLA's games this season (17-of-31 or 54.8 percent). The Bruins are 2-3 against No. 2 USC, 2-0 against No. 3 Florida State, 2-0 against No. 4 LSU, 3-0 against No. 5 LMU, 3-0 vs. No. 6 Stanford, and 2-0 against No. 7 Cal Poly during the COVID-shortened regular season. It should be noted that UCLA did not have its full lineup when they faced the Trojans in the three losses this season. Abby Van Winkle wasn't available in the first loss at USC (March 4), and Lindsey Sparks wasn't available for UCLA when the Bruins met USC at Cal Poly (April 17) and at home (April 22). USC enters the 2021 NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship with a 12-4 (.750) record against the tournament field. Florida State is 11-3 (.786) while LSU has gone 3-7 (.300). LMU is 2-6 (.250) on the year against the tournament field while Stanford (1-7, .125), Cal Poly (0-7) and TCU (0-6) round out the field.
BRUINS THIRD-YOUNGEST NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER
UCLA only returns three players that played on the 2019 NCAA Championship squad and only two that played at the 2018 NCAA Championship. Savvy Simo (court three in 2018 and court four in 2019) is the only Bruin that played on both squads. Megan Muret started in the 2018 Championship on court five but didn't see any action at the 2019 Championship. Lea Monkhouse started on court tour with Simo in 2019 but only played the first dual after being replaced due to injury and she couldn't return. Monkhouse was at Hawai'i in 2018. Lindsey Sparks started on court five with Izzy Carey in 2019 and went 9-0 in the post season (4-0 at NCAAs). UCLA is the third-youngest in the 2021 field in terms of classification (competitive, not academic) with a total of 24 points (1 for a freshman all the way to 5 for a graduate). The Bruins' opening opponent, No. 8 TCU, is the youngest with 18 points as they start six freshmen, two sophomores, one senior, and one graduate in the five courts. No. 6 Stanford is second with 23 points (4 Fr., 1 So., 3 Jr., 2 Sr., 0 Gr.) followed by the Bruins (4 Fr., 2 So., 2 Jr., 0 Sr., 2 Gr.). No. 5 LMU is the oldest with 38 points (2 Fr., 0 So., 1 Jr., 2 Sr., 5 Gr.) followed by No. 4 LSU with 35 points (0 Fr., 2 So., 2 Jr., 5 Sr., 1 Gr.). No. 2 USC rounds out the top three with 32 points (2 Fr., 2 So., 1 Jr., 2 Sr., 3 Gr.). UCLA is the only team in the field without a senior (two graduate students). TCU has the most freshmen with six. LSU is the only team without a freshman in its lineup. LMU has seven players that are seniors (2) or graduates (5).
BRUINS IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
Here are the updated records for each UCLA Bruin in the NCAA Championship. The court records indicate what that exact pair's record is:
Court One (25-6 Season | 25-6 Overall | 2-2 All Postseason | 0-0 NCAA)
Lexy Denaburg: 25-6 Season | 35-9 Career | 2-2 All Postseason | 0-0 NCAA | 18th at UCLA in Career Wins
Savvy Simo: 25-6 Season | 116-31 Career | 20-8 All Postseason | 8-3 NCAA | 2nd at UCLA in Career Wins
Court Two (4-2 Season | 4-2 Overall | 3-0 All Postseason | 0-0 NCAA)
Lea Monkhouse: 20-10 Season | 86-25 Career (includes 34-6 at UH) | 10-5 All Postseason (includes 3-3 at UH) | 0-4 NCAA (includes 0-3 at UH) | 13th at UCLA in career wins (52)
Devon Newberry: 22-6 Season | 28-11 Career | 3-0 All Postseason | 0-0 NCAA | 23rd at UCLA in Career Wins
Court Three (2-0 Season | 6-0 Overall | 2-0 All Postseason | 0-0 NCAA) | Went 4-0 overall in 2019 on Court Four
Lindsey Sparks: 20-5 Season | 65-10 Career | 11-0 All Postseason | 4-0 NCAA | 10th at UCLA in Career Wins
Abby Van Winkle: 17-8 Season | 59-15 Career | 5-2 All Postseason | 3-0 NCAA | Recorded dual clinching point to seal 2019 NCAA title with a block of Alexandra Poletto on court three | 11th at UCLA in career wins
Court Four (21-6 Season | 22-6 Overall | 2-1 All Postseason | 0-0 NCAA) | Went 1-0 overall in 2020 on Court Five
Megan Muret: 23-7 Season | 77-18 Career | 7-4 All Postseason | 3-1 NCAA | 7th at UCLA in Career Wins
Jacqueline Quade: 22-8 Season | 26-8 Career | 2-1 All Postseason | 0-0 NCAA | 24th at UCLA in Career Wins
Court Five (23-5 Season | 24-5 Overall | 3-0 All Postseason | 0-0 NCAA) | Went 1-0 overall in 2020 on Court Four
Rileigh Powers: 23-5 Season | 32-10 Career | 3-0 All Postseason | 0-0 NCAA | 21st at UCLA in Career Wins
Jaden Whitmarsh: 25-5 Season | 28-5 Career | 3-0 All Postseason | 0-0 NCAA | 23rd at UCLA in Career Wins
UCLA IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
Here is a breakdown of how UCLA has done in the history of the NCAA Championship:
Tournament Appearances 5 (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021)
NCAA Championships 2 (2018 and 2019)
3rd Place Finishes 1 (2016)
5th Place Finishes 1 (2017)
Won-Lost Dual Record 13-5 (.722)
Sets Won-Lost Record 113-79 (.589)
Two-Set Matches 28-18 (.609)
Three-Set Matches 15-7 (.682)
Total Individual Matches 43-25 (.632)
Court 1 Record 10-2 (.833)
Court 2 Record 7-7 (.500)
Court 3 Record 9-6 (.600)
Court 4 Record 7-6 (.538)
Court 5 Record 10-4 (.714)
SIMO REACHES 100 CAREER VICTORIES
Savvy Simo became the fifth Bruin in history to win 100 career matches with the straight-set win over No. 11 California's Ainsley Radell and Jordan Polo at the Pac-12 South Invitational on March 27. She currently ranks second all-time on the UCLA charts with 116 total wins. She will finish her career at No. 2 as the most matches she could win at NCAAs is five and she needs seven victories to tie the Bruins' all-time leader, Izzy Carey (123, 2016-19).
NEWBERRY AND SPARKS NAMED PAC-12 PAIR OF THE WEEK
UCLA freshman Devon Newberry (Santa Monica, Calif. / Marymount HS) and sophomore Lindsey Sparks (Huntington Beach, Calif. / Edison HS) were named the Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week as announced by the league office on Apr. 9. Newberry and Sparks, No. 4 UCLA's dynamic duo on court three went 4-0 against top-three opponents last week. The tandem opened on Saturday with a 25-23, 29-21, 15-11 win against No. 3 LSU's third pair. Then they followed that up with a comeback win against the same duo after dropping the first set to beat LSU's pair 13-21, 21-16, 15-12. They stayed hot on Sunday with a three-set win against Sara Putt and Maddie Anderson of No. 2 Florida State, which was previously undefeated at 22-0 on the year. UCLA's third pair secured the fourth and final win of the weekend for the Bruins after knocking off Putt and Anderson in two sets. The duo is 9-0 on court three for the Bruins this year while also owning a 4-1 record on court two for an overall record of 13-1. This is the fifth AVCA/CollegeBeachVB.com Pair of the Week honor for UCLA and first since Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara on April 2, 2019.
NEWBERRY AND SPARKS NAMED AVCA/COLLEGEBEACHVB.COM NATIONAL PAIR OF THE WEEK
UCLA freshman Devon Newberry (Santa Monica, Calif. / Marymount HS) and sophomore Lindsey Sparks (Huntington Beach, Calif. / Edison HS) were named the AVCA/CollegeBeachVB.com Pair of the Week as announced by the AVCA national office on Apr. 6. Newberry and Sparks, No. 4 UCLA's dynamic duo on court three went 4-0 against top-three opponents last week. The tandem opened on Saturday with a 25-23, 29-21, 15-11 win against No. 3 LSU's third pair. Then they followed that up with a comeback win against the same duo after dropping the first set to beat LSU's pair 13-21, 21-16, 15-12. They stayed hot on Sunday with a three-set win against Sara Putt and Maddie Anderson of No. 2 Florida State, which was previously undefeated at 22-0 on the year. UCLA's third pair secured the fourth and final win of the weekend for the Bruins after knocking off Putt and Anderson in two sets. The duo is 9-0 on court three for the Bruins this year while also owning a 4-1 record on court two for an overall record of 13-1. This is the fifth AVCA/CollegeBeachVB.com Pair of the Week honor for UCLA and first since Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara on April 2, 2019.
SIMO AND DENABURG NAMED PAC-12 PAIR OF THE WEEK
UCLA senior Savvy Simo (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. / Torrey Pines HS) and freshman Lexy Denaburg (Merritt Island, Fla. / Merritt Island HS) were named the Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week as announced by the league office on Mar. 31. The Bruins' court one pair of Denaburg and Simo won all five of their matches in straight sets to lead UCLA to a 5-0 week including wins over three ranked teams. UCLA recorded two wins over No. 7 Pepperdine (4-1, 5-0), where Denaburg and Simo outscored the Waves 84-42. The duo also led the Bruins to four straight 5-0 sweeps to end the week, while UCLA and the tandem improved to 11-1 for the season. The duo won all three matches at the the Pac-12 South Invitational without dropping a set while outscoring their opponents from California, Arizona State and Oregon by a combined total of 126-80. It is the first time this season the duo has earned the weekly honor and is Simo's fifth-career recognition.
UCLA's season-opening contest at Long Beach State, originally scheduled for Feb. 25 at the LBSU Sand Courts, was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols within the Long Beach State program. It will not be rescheduled.
POLLING THE BRUINS
UCLA jumped up one spot to No. 1 in the AVCA Collegiate Beach Volleyball Poll this week (Week 10 - May 4).
SIMO RETURNS FOR FIFTH SEASON
Senior Savvy Simo (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.), a 2018 third-team All-American, has amassed 93 career victories and has worked herself onto the Bruins' top court in 2021, partnering with sophomore Lexy Denaburg. Last year, she partnered with Abby Van Winkle and the duo went 13-2 on the year and took down 2019 first team AVCA All-Americans Claire Coppola and Kristen Nuss from LSU in straight sets in the first meeting in Hawaii in February. Later that weekend, Simo was named the Best Attacker at the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Beach Classic. But then COVID-19 derailed the 2020 beach volleyball season. With an all-time record of 93-25 (.788), she currently ranks fifth on the UCLA career victories chart, needing 10 wins to pass Elise Zappia (102, 2015-18) for fourth.
The Bruins return eight of 10 starters from last year's COVID-shortened season that saw UCLA end the year at No. 2 in the nation with an overall record of 13-2. Both of the Bruins' losses were 3-2 to No. 1 LSU. UCLA also had a 4-1 win over the Tigers in the opening week of the 2020 schedule. However, the Bruins only return four of 10 starters on the five courts from 2019's NCAA title team that went 35-3. Those four starters are graduate student Savvy Simo, junior Lea Monkhouse, and sophomores Lindsey Sparks and Abby Van Winkle. UCLA also only returns two starters from the 2018 championship team that went 40-4, which includes junior Megan Muret along with Simo. UCLA won the 2019 NCAA Championship as the No. 2 seed by defeating No. 7 Hawai'i 3-2 in the opening round. After that wake-up call, UCLA cruised to its second-straight national title with 3-0 victories over No. 3 Florida State, No. 5 LSU and No. 1 USC (didn't drop a set to the Trojans). The Bruins return their court one duo of Simo and Abby Van Winkle from 2020 that went 13-2 a year ago (all on court one). Court two also remains intact and consisted of freshman Lexy Denaburg and Sparks, who went 10-3 last year (9-3 on court two). While court three lost senior Lily Justine (2020 NCAA Today's Top 10 Award winner) to graduation, it returns junior Lea Monkhouse. She and Justine went 10-4 a year ago (9-3 on court three). While court four featured seven different pairs in the 15 duals last year, the pair that was on it the most returns in 2021. That tandem is freshmen Devon Newberry and Rileigh Powers, which went 3-3 on the year (all on court four). The final court also saw seven different duos, but mainly featured Muret and Mac May (graduated). May and Muret went 5-1 on court five last year. Muret went 10-1 on court five on the year.
NO DUAL PARTICIPATION
For the first time in program history, the UCLA beach volleyball program does not have a single player from the Bruins' indoor volleyball team currently playing on the roster. UCLA does have two players with collegiate indoor experience in Savvy Simo (UCLA) and Jacqueline Quade (Illinois).
The Bruins signed four players that are all on the roster in 2021. That class includes Peri Brennan (Laguna Beach, Calif./Laguna Beach HS), Caitlyn Kyle (Hermosa Beach, Calif./Redondo Union HS), Sophie Swett (San Anselmo, Calif./Branson HS), and Tessa Van Winkle (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente HS).
UCLA has plenty of other talented players competing for the coveted 10-player spots on the five courts. They include redshirt freshmen Jaden Whitmarsh, and Maggie Walters, and redshirt sophomores Hannah Phair and Cami Sanchez.
MAPES BEACH AND UCLA IN FOR BIG THINGS IN 2021
The Bruins opened the 2020 season in their brand new home, Mapes Beach, on Thursday, Feb. 20 with a 5-0 sweep of No. 8 Loyola Marymount. UCLA has an exciting home schedule this season hosting some of the country's biggest names and the Pac-12 Championship. Slated to visit Mapes Beach in 2021 is No. 1 LSU (April 3), No. 3 Florida State (April 4), No. 4 USC (April 22), No. 8 Loyola Marymount (April 14), No. 9 California (March 6), and No. 10 Pepperdine (March 11). Finally, the Bruins are slated to host the Pac-12 Championship for the first time on April 29-May 2 at Mapes Beach.
HALL OF FAME MENTORS
U.S. Olympian and UCLA Hall of Famer Stein Metzger is in his eighth season at the helm of the UCLA Beach Volleyball program. He sports an overall record of 188-46 (.803), His 100th career victory came in a 4-1 win at No. 13 Stanford on April 8, 2018. Metzger has been named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year in 2017 and 2018 and was also named the USMC/AVCA National Coach of the Year in both of those seasons. Metzger now has five NCAA Championships to his credit (three as a player in 1993, 1995 and 1996 and two as a coach in 2018 and 2019).
Entering her eighth year with the Bruins and first season as UCLA's Associate Head Coach, Jenny Johnson Jordan is also a U.S. Olympian and a recent UCLA Hall of Fame inductee (Oct. 5, 2018). Like Metzger, Jordan has also won NCAA titles as both a player (1991) and a coach (2018 and 2019). Jordan was also recently inducted into the CBVA Hall of Fame (Nov. 3, 2018) and was named the AVCA National Assistant Beach Coach of the Year on May 9, 2019.
BRUINS COMPLETE COACHING STAFF WITH A LEGEND
Head Coach Stein Metzger announced on Jan.5, 2021, that UCLA had hired Jose Loiola to the post of Volunteer Assistant Coach. While this is Loiola's first collegiate post, he has been coaching some of the world's youngest and brightest stars for over a decade. He is currently coaching emerging stars on both the men's and women's professional tours. Under his tutelage, Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb placed third overall in the 2020 AVP Champions Cup Series and won The Porsche Cup in August. On the women's side, he also coached Sara Hughes and Brandie Wilkerson to a third-place overall finish in the 2020 AVP Champions Cup Series with a best finish of second at The Wilson Cup in July. Loiola recorded 55 victories over his long and legendary career. He won titles for eight straight years, from 1995 through 2002, including 13 AVP titles in 1997 and seven FIVB titles in 1999. Loiola has experienced success both on the AVP Tour as well as internationally, winning 35 domestic events plus 20 on the FIVB Tour. Among his many wins are the 1997 King of the Beach, 1999 FIVB World Championship (Marseille, France), 2001 Goodwill Games (Australia) and twice winning the Manhattan Beach Open (1995 and 2000). He was an Olympian for Brazil in 2000 (Sydney, Australia), finishing ninth with Emanuel Rego. He won four AVP Offensive Player of the Year awards (1995-98). Loiola was the first player to be selected AVP Rookie of the Year (1993) and then MVP (1997). His first title, an indoor tournament in 1995, marked the first time an AVP event was won by foreign-born players, as he claimed the title with Eduardo Bacil. In 2001 the FIVB chose Loiola and Rego as one of the two best beach volleyball teams of the '90s.
PAC-12 BEACH VOLLEYBALL
In 2016, beach volleyball was added as the 23rd Pac-12-sponsored sport beginning in the 2015-16 academic year. Now with nine member institutions (Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah and Washington) currently fielding beach volleyball teams, the Conference of Champions was the first major conference to sponsor beach volleyball as an official sport. As part of the addition, the Pac-12 will also sponsor a Beach Volleyball Championship for the fifth straight season (should be sixth but the 2020 Championship was canceled due to COVID-19). This year, UCLA will serve as the host for the first time in program history on April 29-May 2 at Mapes Beach.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP INFORMATION
For the fifth straight season The NCAA® National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship will be held May 7-9 at the Gulf Shores Public Beach and will be hosted by the city of Gulf Shores, Alabama and Orange Beach Sports Commission. The host institution for the beach volleyball championship will be the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Beach volleyball is the fastest-growing NCAA sport with 84 sponsoring schools at the Division I level, which is up from 69 in 2018, 65 in 2017 and 47 in 2016. The addition of the beach volleyball championship in 2016 became the 45th NCAA championship administered for women and the 90th NCAA championship overall. The championship will have an eight-team bracket that will be played in a double-elimination format with teams consisting of five pairs of female student-athletes. After being placed on the list of emerging sports for women in 2009, beach volleyball is the fifth sport to succeed from the emerging sports program.
Tickets to the 2021 NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship are on sale now exclusively here.
THREE BRUINS NAMED TO 2020 U.S. BEACH COLLEGIATE NATIONAL TEAM
Three current UCLA Bruins have been named to the 2020 U.S. Beach Collegiate National Team. The 29 athletes represent a total of 11 universities from around the country. Graduate transfer student Jacqueline Quade joins sophomores Lindsey Sparks and Abby Van Winkle on the team. Players were nominated to the team by their coaches and selected based on their collegiate rankings.
JUSTINE NAMED NCAA TODAY'S TOP 10 AWARD RECIPIENT
In January, 10 exceptional former student-athletes were honored during the NCAA Convention as the 2021 Today's Top 10 Award winners and UCLA's Lily Justine was one of the recipients. The award recognizes former student-athletes for their successes on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Recipients were recognized during a virtual Honors Celebration awards show on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
The United States Marine Corps (USMC) and the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced that the UCLA beach volleyball team has received the USMC/AVCA Team Academic Award for the 2019-20 season. It marks the third consecutive year the Bruins have earned this honor. The Bruins join a total of 1,315 teams from across the country and at all levels to be honored with the award, topping last year's record by almost 200 teams. The award, initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors volleyball teams that maintain a year-long cumulative grade-point average of 3.30 on a 4.0 scale or 4.10 on a 5.0 scale.
2020 PAC-12 SPRING ACADEMIC HONOR ROLL
Graduated senior Lily Justine, juniors Lea Monkhouse and Megan Muret, sophomore Abby Van Winkle and redshirt freshman Piper Monk-Heidrich earned the first Pac-12 All-Academic selections of their careers. Any student-athlete on his or her respective team roster with a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or above, and who has served at least one year in residence at the institution, is eligible for recognition.
The UCLA Bruins are back-to-back defending NCAA Champions and went 13-2 in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, losing only to No. 1 LSU by identical scores of 3-2. UCLA won the 2019 NCAA Championship as the No. 2 seed by defeating No. 7 Hawai'i 3-2 in the opening round. After that wake-up call, UCLA cruised to its second-straight national title with 3-0 victories over No. 3 Florida State, No. 5 LSU and No. 1 USC (didn't drop a set to the Trojans). The Bruins had four players named first team AVCA All-Americans, which included Megan McNamara, Nicole McNamara, Lily Justine, and Sarah Sponcil. The McNamara twins became the first duo to earn All-America honors all four years.
AVCA COLLEGIATE BEACH VOLLEYBALL POLL (May 4, 2021)
|Rank||School (First place votes)||Last Poll|
|19||Long Beach State||18|
Others receiving votes: Florida Gulf Coast, Coastal Carolina, Tampa.