The UCLA beach volleyball team just won back-to-back national championships as they downed USC in three straight sets. It was also the 117th overall championship for UCLA.
There is a reason Bruins fans use the mantra, “Fight, Fight, Fight!” Even when you are up two matches to zero and need one more to win the national championship, you haven’t won anything yet and must continue to fight. That is what happened with the #2 UCLA beach volleyball team on Sunday, right before they won their second consecutive national championship.
After running through the NCAA beach volleyball tournament, the Bruins met up with crosstown rival #1 USC for the national championship. This matchup was going to be an especially tricky feat for the Bruins as they had lost the last three meetings with the Trojans.
During the regular season, UCLA met up with USC three times, winning the first two, but losing the final one, 2-3.
Both teams once again met in the Pac-12 Tournament last weekend, but again, the Trojans overcame the Bruins twice in the double-elimination tournament, the second of which gave USC the conference title.
Things were different this past weekend when both teams met up with six others from around the nation as they competed for the 2019 NCAA beach volleyball championship.
In an unexpected loss, USC was taken down on Friday in the first round by Stetson, putting them in the losers bracket in the double-elimination tournament. UCLA, on the other hand, went undefeated into the championship game as they took down Hawaii, Florida State and finally LSU on Saturday. That set up the showdown with USC on Sunday, who made it out of the bottom bracket unscathed. That would not be the case when in their contest against the Bruins.
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UCLA started the championship round with their #4 pairs of Madi Yeomans and Savvy Simo (21-16, 21-19) and their #5 pairs Izzy Carey and Lindsay Sparks (21-16, 21-15) beating their USC counterparts by 2-0 match wins. That gave the Bruins an overall score of 2-0 and only needed one more match to capture the title. With three more matches to go (and all playing simultaneously), the #3 pair of Zana Muno and Abby Van Winkle (22-20, 21-13) locked things up with a dominating second set to give the Bruins their second national championship and giving UCLA their 117th.
After their losses to USC, UCLA had something to prove and they used that as momentum to sweep USC 3-0 in the national championship. Even if Muno and Van Winkle lost, UCLA would have most likely won the championship as the #1 pair of Nicole McNamara and Megan McNamara (21-18, 19-19) and the #2 pair of Sarah Sponcil and Lily Justine (21-18, 19-10) were all in control of their matches and on their way to win.
Because of Muno and Van Winkle’s third match win, the McNamara/McNamara and Sponcil/Justine matches were truncated (similar to a walk-off win in baseball).
This title is UCLA’s first national championship this academic-athletic year, which brings them back to within three of Stanford, who leads the nation with 120. Congratulations, Bruins!