The season-long battle between UCLA and USC for supremacy in beach volleyball ended Sunday with a dominant victory for the Bruins in Gulf Shores, Ala.
In the sixth meeting of the year between the rivals, UCLA did not lose a set in a 3-0 victory that gave the Bruins their second NCAA championship in a row.
UCLA and USC spent most of the season as the top-ranked teams in the nation. The Bruins finished at 35-3, their only losses coming to the Trojans. USC (32-6) lost its first two matches against UCLA before winning three in a row, including two last week in the Pac-12 Conference tournament.
The Pac-12 championship earned the Trojans the top seed at the NCAA tournament. USC lost its first match, to eighth-seeded Stetson, forcing the Trojans to win four elimination matches over three days to reach the title game.
After dropping the first two points to Louisiana State on Sunday morning, USC rallied for a 3-2 victory that put the Trojans in the title match.
The Bruins, the only team to go unbeaten in the NCAA tournament, overpowered the Trojans in the final.
UCLA got its first point at the No. 5 pairs, Izzy Carey and Lindsey Sparks beating Cammie Dorn and Mollie Ebertin 21-16, 21-15. Moments later, the Bruins’ No. 4 pair of Madi Yeomans and Savvy Simo defeated Joy Dennis and Maja Kaiser 21-16, 21-19.
After a break, the top three pairs squared off. The Bruins won the first set on all three courts. The Bruins’ No. 3 pair, Abby Van Winkle and Zana Muno, clinched the title with a 22-20, 21-13 win over Haley Hallgren and Alexandra Poletto.
In the four seasons that beach volleyball has been an NCAA sport, UCLA and USC are the only schools to win the national championship. The Trojans won the title in 2016 and 2017.