UCLA’s beach volleyball team won the first NCAA championship in the program’s six-year history, May 6 in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
The Bruins, the tournament’s top-seeded team, defeated Florida State, 3-1, avenging losses to the Seminoles earlier in this championship and in each of the past two years’ NCAA tournaments.
After the Bruins’ loss Friday to Florida State in the double-elimination format, UCLA had to be perfect the rest of the way. The team proceeded to win four matches — knocking off Louisiana State University, University of Southern California, University of Hawaii and then Florida State — over the next two days, making it the first squad to win the NCAA beach volleyball title after coming out of the contenders’ bracket.
The Bruins became the first team in history of the beach volleyball championship to come from the contender’s bracket to win an NCAA title! #GoBruins #GoBeyondGreat #NCAABeachVB pic.twitter.com/P10yT407xC— UCLA Beach VB (@uclabeachvb) May 6, 2018
The victory gave UCLA its 116th NCAA championship in all sports and was the second in recent weeks, following the gymnastics team’s title on April 21.
The Bruins won 35 of their final 36 matches this season and completed their campaign with a 40-4 record.
In the championship round, UCLA’s No. 5 pair of Izzy Carey and Megan Muret got the Bruins on the board first with a three-set victory. UCLA’s No. 4 pair of Elise Zappia and Mac May dropped a close three-set match, but UCLA’s Court 3 team of Zana Muno and Savvy Simo bounced back with a convincing two-set win, meaning UCLA needed just one victory in the final two matches to earn the title. With the No. 1 and No. 2 matches taking place at the same time, both of UCLA’s top duos held match points almost simultaneously. It was the No. 2 pairing, Sarah Sponcil and Lily Justine, who came through first, with a dramatic two-set victory to seal the NCAA title for UCLA.
The win set off a celebration on the sand, followed by a team eight-clap in the gulf waters.
The Bruins’ No. 1 pair, twin sisters Nicole and Megan McNamara, who also were a point away from victory in their match in the final, were named to the all-tournament team, along with Carey and Muret.
With the championship, UCLA is tied with Stanford University for most NCAA team titles.