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No. 1 UCLA Returns to Action in March to May Event

Mar 16, 2022
Jaden Whitmarsh and the top-ranked UCLA Bruins return to action this weekend after a week off.

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LOS ANGELES -- No. 1 UCLA (9-0) heads to Gulf Shores, Ala., the site of the NCAA Championship, to take part in the March to May tournament hosted by UAB this weekend from Mar. 18-20. After a week off, UCLA will face five nationally-ranked opponents over the three-day event. The Bruins will open with No. 11 FAU (7-3) on Friday, Mar. 18 at 9:00 a.m. PT and will conclude day one with No. 4 Florida State (9-2) at 1:00 p.m. PT. UCLA will face No. 13 Georgia State (8-4) to open play on Saturday, Mar. 19 at 7:00 a.m. PT and conclude day two against No. 20 Tulane (11-2) at 3:00 p.m. PT. The Bruins will then face the hosts, UAB (5-8), at 11:00 a.m. PT on Sunday, Mar. 20 before ending tournament play with No. 5 LSU (13-0) at 1:00 p.m. PT.
Opponent: No. 11 FAU (7-3)
Location: Gulf Beach Place | Gulf Shores, Ala.
Date: Friday, Mar. 18, 2022
Time: 9:00 a.m. PT
Series History: UCLA leads 4-0
Streak: Won 4
Last Meeting: W 5-0 (Mar. 30, 2018 at FIU Surf-N-Turf Invitational - Miami, Fla.)

Opponent: No. 4 Florida State (9-2)
Location: Gulf Beach Place | Gulf Shores, Ala.
Date: Friday, Mar. 18, 2022
Time: 1:00 p.m. PT
Series History: UCLA leads 10-7
Streak: Won 6
Last Meeting: W 3-2 (Apr. 4, 2021 at Mapes Beach - Los Angeles)

Opponent: No. 13 Georgia State (8-4)
Location: Gulf Beach Place | Gulf Shores, Ala.
Date: Saturday, Mar. 19, 2022
Time: 7:00 a.m. PT
Series History: UCLA leads 1-0
Streak: Won 1
Last Meeting: W 5-0 (Mar. 12, 2017 at East Meets West Invitational - Manhattan Beach Pier - Manhattan Beach, Calif.)

Opponent: No. 20 Tulane (11-2)
Location: Gulf Beach Place | Gulf Shores, Ala.
Date: Saturday, Mar. 19, 2022
Time: 3:00 p.m. PT
Series History: UCLA leads 3-0
Streak: Won 3
Last Meeting: W 4-1 (Feb. 29, 2020 at Tiger Beach Challenge - LSU Beach Volleyball Stadium - Baton Rouge, La.)

Opponent: UAB (5-8)
Location: Gulf Beach Place | Gulf Shores, Ala.
Date: Sunday, Mar. 20, 2022
Time: 11:00 a.m. PT
Series History: First meeting

Opponent: No. 5 LSU (13-0)
Location: Gulf Beach Place | Gulf Shores, Ala.
Date: Sunday, Mar. 20, 2022
Time: 1:00 p.m. PT
Series History: UCLA leads 11-2
Streak: Won 3
Last Meeting: W 3-2 (May 8, 2021 in Contender's Bracket quarterfinal at NCAA Championship - Gulf Beach Place - Gulf Shores, Ala.)

UCLA sophomore Lexy Denaburg (Merritt Island, Fla.) and junior Abby Van Winkle (San Clemente, Calif.) were named the Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week as announced by the league office (Mar. 8). The duo was paired together for the first time in their careers and, after three practices, went 4-0 this past week without dropping a set on court one. All four victories came against ranked teams. In their first match together, the tandem had the dual-clinching win over No. 1 USC, defeating the Trojans' 2020 Olympian Tina Graudina and Hailey Harward, 21-17, 21-17. The Bruin duo was also named the AVCA/CBVB National Pair of the Week. This is the second weekly honor for Denaburg in her career and the third for Van Winkle.

UCLA sophomore Lexy Denaburg (Merritt Island, Fla.) and junior Abby Van Winkle (San Clemente, Calif.) were named the Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week as announced by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (Mar. 7). Denaburg and Van Winkle, who were paired together for the first time in the 2022 season and in their careers last week, went 4-0 without dropping a set on court one after just three practices together. All four victories were against ranked teams and included a dual-clinching win over No. 1 USC (Mar. 5). The duo defeated the Trojans' 2020 Olympian Tina Graudina and Hailey Harward, 21-17, 21-17, in their very first match together. They also completed the Bruins' 5-0 sweep of No. 14 Long Beach State with a 21-13, 21-18 win over Skyler Germann and Alice Pratesi. The UCLA tandem also added straight-set wins the next day on court one over No. 7 Grand Canyon's Anaya Evans and Jess Vastine (21-15 and 21-16) and over No. 11 Cal Poly's Tia Miric and Ella Connor (21-17 and 21-19). This is the first national weekly award for both Denaburg and Van Winkle.

UCLA sophomore Devon Newberry (Santa Monica, Calif.) and redshirt sophomore Jaden Whitmarsh (San Diego, Calif.) were named the Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Pair of the Week as announced by the league office (Mar. 1). The pair went undefeated on court three to help No. 2 UCLA open the season 5-0 and claim the Queen's Cup at the Heineken Duke Kahanamoku Beach Classic in Honolulu. The Bruin duo also clinched a pair of wins over No. 10 Hawai'i, including the 4-1 win the championship match and was named the Best Pair of the Queen's Cup. Newberry and Whitmarsh are one of five new pairs for the Bruins in 2022 and they posted three wins against Top 10 opponents to start the season with a 4-0 record. This is the first weekly honor for Whitmarsh and the second for Newberry (Apr. 9, 2021 with Lindsey Sparks). 

The Bruins return six of 10 starters from last year's NCAA runner-up squad as UCLA ended the year at No. 2 in the nation with an overall record of 32-5. Four of UCLA's losses were to USC. The other one was a 3-2 setback in the NCAA Championship to No. 5 LMU. The starters include senior Lea Monkhouse, junior Abby Van Winkle, redshirt sophomore Jaden Whitmarsh, and sophomores Lexy Denaburg, Devon Newberry, and Rileigh Powers. The Bruins also return redshirt sophomore Maggie Walters, but will be without the services of junior Lindsey Sparks (injury). 

The Bruins signed six players that are all on the roster in 2022 as true freshmen. That class includes Madeline Bonanni (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa HS), Bonnie Davis (Arlington, Texas/Grace Preparatory Academy), Katie Hashman (Austin, Texas/Westlake HS), Sophie Moore (Encinitas, Calif./La Costa Canyon HS), Natalie Myszkowski (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa HS), and Jessie Smith (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Aliso Niguel HS). They are joined by redshirt freshmen, 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). They combine to make 10 of UCLA's 20 student-athletes on the roster in 2022 listed as either a freshman or a redshirt freshman.

UCLA gained the services of two new players in 2022 through the transfer portal. The duo consists of Hawai'i beach transfer Pani Napoleon and Florida indoor graduate transfer Marlie Monserez. Napoleon was a First-Team All-Big West selection in 2021 and also the Big West Freshman of the Year in 2019. Monserez was a two-time AVCA All-American (indoor) for the Gators, including Second-Team honors in 2021.

For just the second time in program history (and second consecutive year), 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 one player with collegiate indoor experience in graduate transfer Marlie Monserez (Florida).

U.S. Olympian and UCLA Hall of Famer Stein Metzger is in his ninth season at the helm of the UCLA Beach Volleyball program. He sports an overall record of 201-48 (.807), He recently earned his 200th career victory with a 3-2 win at Mapes Beach over No. 7 GCU (Mar. 6, 2022). His 100th career victory came in a 4-1 win at No. 13 Stanford on April 8, 2018. Metzger was 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 ninth year with the Bruins and second 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.

Entering her first season as the Bruins' Volunteer Assistant Coach is Maria Clara Salgado. Salgado, an active player on the AVP, is a highly decorated player on the international scene. While this is her first collegiate post, she comes from a beach volleyball dynasty and was coached by her mother, the legendary former indoor volleyball and beach volleyball player Isabel Salgado, in the early years of her career. Isabel is a two-time Olympian, who played for Brazil on the indoor team in Moscow in 1980 and Los Angeles in 1984. Her brother, Pedro Solberg, also plays professionally and represented Brazil in beach volleyball at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The Salgado's beach volleyball history started 25-plus years ago when Isabel played in the first beach volleyball international tournaments in the early 1990s. Isabel was a star in Brazil in the 1980s in indoor volleyball and was one of the pioneers of beach volleyball in the country, playing with Olympic champion Jackie Silva in the early days of the sport. Salgado, who started playing professionally in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 17, teamed with Shaylyn Bede to win the inaugural U-21 world title in 2001 at Le Lavandou, France. She won bronze at the 2002 U-21 World Championship with Talita Antunes in Catania, Italy, and would later win bronze with her sister, Carolina Salgado, at the 2003 U-21 World Championship in Saint Quay Portrieux, France. Late in her career, Isabel played with her daughters in the Brazilian Tour. When Isabel retired, the Salgado sisters joined forces and had her as their coach for years. The Salgado sisters stayed together from 2003 to 2015. Salgado had six podiums finishes in 2013, leading to her best FIVB World Ranking of second. In 2016, Salgado took a break to have her first son, Joaquim, with her husband and UCLA alum, Jeremy Casebeer. Casebeer served as the Bruins' volunteer assistant coach during the 2020 season. Salgado was named the AVP Newcomer of the Year in 2017 and also was named the FIVB Best Server in 2008 and 2009. She has had 28 semifinal appearances in the FIVB in her career.

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 sixth straight season (should be seventh but the 2020 Championship was canceled due to COVID-19). This year, Arizona will serve as the host April 28-30 at Bear Down Beach.

For the sixth straight season The NCAA® National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship will be held May 6-8 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 Division I Council approved in December that the format of an expanded 16-team bracket be adopted for the 2022 National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship. Under the format, all 16 teams would travel to the finals site in Gulf Shores, Ala., and compete in the first round in a single-elimination format on May 4. The eight teams that advance would compete in a double-elimination format starting May 6.

Tickets to the 2022 NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship are on sale now exclusively here.

Three UCLA Bruins were named to the 2021 U.S. Beach Collegiate National Team. The 13 athletes represent a total of eight universities from around the country. Graduate Savvy Simo joined junior Abby Van Winkle and sophomore Lexy Denaburg on the team. It was the second straight year that Van Winkle was on the squad. Players were nominated to the team by their coaches and selected based on their collegiate rankings.

Redshirt freshmen Peri Brennan, Sophie Swett, and Tessa Van Winkle joined junior Abby Van Winkle on the Pac-12 Spring Academic Honor Roll. It was the second straight year that Abby Van Winkle has earned Pac-12 All-Academic acclaim. 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 went 32-5 a year ago and reached the NCAA Championship game for the third straight year after winning back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019. UCLA defeated USC twice in the same day (May 1) on its home sand to capture the second Pac-12 Championship in program history in 2021. The Bruins had three players earn AVCA All-American acclaim including First-Team selections Savvy Simo and Lexy Denaburg and Second-Team pick Lea Monkhouse.

UCLA remained steady at No. 1 in this week's AVCA Collegiate Beach Volleyball Poll (Week 3 - Mar. 15).


Rank School (First-Place Votes) Points Record Previous Rank
1 UCLA (14) 299 9-0 1
2 Southern California (1) 284 8-1 2
3 TCU 268 15-0 3
4 Florida State 250 9-2 4
5 LSU 241 13-0 5
6 Loyola Marymount 230 12-1 6
7 Grand Canyon 213 8-2 7
8 Stanford 183 4-4 8
9 Hawai'i 172 10-5 9
10 California 165 8-4 10
11 FAU 148 7-3 12
12 Cal Poly 136 5-7 11
13 Georgia State 104 8-4 16
14 Long Beach State 99 1-7 14
15 South Carolina 70 7-5 19
16 Arizona 67 5-3 13
17 Stetson 64 5-7 18
18 Pepperdine 61 7-2 15
19 FIU 58 7-0 17
20 Tulane 12 11-2 NR

Others receiving votes: Arizona State (11), Tampa (5), Cal State Bakersfield (4), Texas A&M Corpus Christi (3), Florida Gulf Coast (2)

Dropped Out: Cal State Bakersfield