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Mitchell Northam | | May 4, 2019

NC beach volleyball championship: 4 things to know heading into Saturday's matches

No. 2 seed UCLA barely beats No. 7 seed Hawaii

The first day of the NCAA beach volleyball championships are in the books in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

UCLA and LSU put on their best performances, winning twice to advance in the winner’s bracket. Stetson pulled off a historic upset, and two teams went home after a pair of losses.

Heading into Day Two of the championships, here’s everything you need to know.

HISTORY: A complete list of all of the women's beach volleyball championship teams

Early exits for Cal Poly, Pepperdine

Two of the California schools in the tournament are leaving it prematurely. Cal Poly suffered a pair of losses on Friday, as did Pepperdine. Neither team won a pair all day, getting swept twice.

Cal Poly was handed losses by Florida State and Hawaii, while LSU and Southern California topped Pepperdine.

While Pepperdine fell behind early in both matches — failing to win any of its first set pairings — Cal Poly had a bit more luck, topping Florida State 21-14 in the No. 2 pairing. Emily Sonny and Macy Gordon were leading in the second set 16-14 when the match was called, with FSU quickly taking wins in three other pairings.

RECORD BOOKS: NCAA beach volleyball championship records 

In the elimination bracket, Hawaii beat Cal Poly for the first time in its last four meetings. Despite the loss, Cal Poly had a historic season, becoming the first team in program history to win the Big West and make the NCAA tournament. With just three seniors graduating, Cal Poly could be back.

Weather forces time change

Inclement weather is on its way to Alabama, apparently.

According to the Weather Channel, scattered thunderstorms could move in as early as 10 a.m. A 55 percent chance of precipitation is expected for noon and 5 p.m.

With that, the championships are taking precautions and moving up times of tomorrow’s duels. We can’t play beach volleyball in wet sand, right?

LSU, UCLA move on in winner’s bracket

The LSU Tigers made a bit of history Friday, winning their opening round matchup in the NCAA tournament for the first time ever. It’s the third straight season the Tigers have made the trip to Gulf Shores, but they had come up short each time before in their opening match.

With a sweep on court No. 5, the Tigers got started quickly against Pepperdine. Claire Coppola and Kristen Nuss took care of business on court No. 1, and then Maddie Ligon and Olivia Beyer clinched the match sweep with a win on court No. 4.

In its second match of the day, LSU made more history, advancing to the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in program history. The match fell to a decisive third set on Court No. 5, where Allison Coens and Hunter Domanski scored two consecutive points after the set was tied at 13 to win it for the Tigers.

UCLA had to fight hard to win its opening match, squeaking by Hawaii with a 3-2 win. The dual came down to senior sisters Megan and Nicole McNamara, who won the deciding third set 20-18. Megan had 18 kills, seven digs, and four aces while Nicole tallied 15 kills, four digs, and three aces. The duo then helped the Bruins sweep Florida State in a rematch of last year’s national championship.

After historic upset, Stetson still alive in consolation

Sides still alive in the elimination bracket include Southern California, Florida State, Hawaii and Stetson.

The Stetson Hatters had a historic Friday, becoming the first ever No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in Gulf Shores. Performing its best impression of the 2018 UMBC Retrievers’ men’s basketball team, Stetson notched 2-0 sweeps on courts No. 2 and No. 3. Quinci Birker and Rebecca Ingram had the clinching points on court No. 5, taking a 21-17 win in a crucial second set. It was the first time ever Stetson had beaten a No. 1 ranked team.

Unfortunately, the magic didn’t last for the Hatters, as they fell to LSU in the next round. Still, the Hatters are still alive in the elimination bracket. Should they beat Hawaii, and should Southern California beat Florida State, we’ll get a rematch of Friday’s contest.

And wouldn’t that be fun?

BEACH VOLLEYBALL CHAMP: Interactive bracket Printable bracket

Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.

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