Three UCLA teams did amazing this weekend and they have earned the attention of not only UCLA fans but other collegiate sports fans as well.
The UCLA men’s volleyball team may not have the notoriety of the men’s basketball team or the softball team but they were able to do something special this weekend by capturing the program’s 20th national championship.
Hawaii in men’s volleyball had won the two previous national championships and they were looking to capture their third straight national title. Early in the season, on March 11th, Hawaii on their home court defeated the Bruins 3-1. However, this Bruins team came into the tournament as the number one seed, and even though Hawaii entered this game as the two-time defending champions and had defeated UCLA earlier in the year, the Bruins were still entering the game as the favorites to take home the title.
The game was very competitive early as the Bruins took the first set 28-26. In the second and most entertaining set of the match, Hawaii outlasted UCLA to win the set 33-31. Then UCLA would win the next two sets by 25-21 in each set to capture the 20th national championship for the program, and the first national title since the 2006 season.
Recognition should be given to the entire team but especially the upperclassmen who this may have been their last match in a Bruin uniform in senior outside hitter Alex Knight, redshirt senior libero Troy Gooch, and redshirt senior middle blocker J.R. Norris IV. Other UCLA players who should be recognized for their excellent play in redshirt junior middle blocker Merrick McHenry, sophomore opposite Ido David, and freshman setter Andrew Rowan.
Just look at the social media posts after the victory to see all of the respect and congratulations to the 2023 national champions.
There was another UCLA volleyball team that has done amazing this weekend and will be playing for a national championship on Sunday.
The No. 1 seed UCLA beach volleyball team is 40-3 on the season and has advanced to the NCAA Championship game. The Bruins had to play two matches today to advance to the finals.
UCLA defeated No. 8 Cal in their first match of the day.
The Bruins then defeated No. 4 Florida State to advance to the finals.
Now UCLA has to play a very familiar opponent in cross-town rival USC for the opportunity to capture the 2023 national championship. Not only are the Bruins going up against their biggest rival but they are also facing the two-time defending NCAA Champions and No. 3 ranked USC. The good news is that UCLA is 3-1 against USC this season. After the Trojans won the first contest between these two schools back on March 5th, the Bruins have defeated USC three straight times with the last two contests not being that competitive as UCLA won 4-1 on senior day in mid-April and then they beat USC 3-0, in the Pac-12 tournament in late April. This should be a great match-up against these two historical programs.
This should be a great match between these two teams but look for UCLA to capture their third national championship and their first since 2019 when they won back-to-back national titles in 2018 and 2019. The prediction is for UCLA to win 3-1 against USC.
Finally, in the biggest upset of the weekend for UCLA athletics, the Bruins women’s tennis team defeated No. 6 Duke on their home courts.
The Bruins were down 3-2 but came back in dramatic fashion to upset the Blue Devils to advance to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. UCLA had defeated Texas Tech 4-1 in the opening round of the tournament but that victory was not an upset, unlike their victory over Duke. Now the Bruins face off against No. 11 Iowa State who they lost 3-4 back on January 28th in Coral Gables, FL. UCLA now has the momentum and will have six days to prepare for the Cyclones as they will face off with them on May 12th but the match will be in Ames, IA on Iowa State’s home courts. However, look for the Bruins to win in another close match to advance to the Elite Eight of the tournament.