NCAA announces beach volleyball field: Stanford, Cal Poly get at-large bids

NCAA beach volleyball selection 5/2/2021-UCLA beach volleyball
UCLA dogpiles Rileigh Powers and Jaden Whitmarsh after winning the Pac012 championships Saturday/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

The NCAA beach volleyball selections were announced Sunday on NCAA.com. Hosted by  Jeremiah Johnson, the beach volleyball committee selected three East teams, three West teams, and two at-large bids.

The NCAA beach volleyball tournament runs from May 7-9 at Gulf Shores, Ala., and will be televised on ESPNU on Friday, May 7, and ESPN2 Saturday and Sunday, May 8-9. Check our TV listings for more information.

Our NCAA beach championship preview will run later this week.

The NCAA beach volleyball tournament committee had a difficult task, ranking teams and assigning at-large bids in a year without significant geographical travel due to COVID.

The East bids went to No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 LSU, and No. 8 TCU. The West bids were taken by No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 USC, and No. 5 Loyola Marymount. Both at-large bids were given to West teams, No. 6 Stanford and No. 7 Cal Poly.

NCAA beach volleyball selection 5/2/2021-NCAA beach volleyball bracket

The first round NCAA beach volleyball championship schedule for May 7 (all times central):

8 a.m.: No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 8 TCU
9 a.m.:No. 4 LSU vs. No. 5 Loyola Marymount
10 a.m.: No. 2 USC vs. No. 7 Cal Poly
11 a.m.: No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 6 Stanford

No. 1 UCLA (28-3): The Bruins received the top NCAA volleyball seed by winning the Pac-12 conference, defeating USC twice Saturday by 3-1 and 3-0 scores.

Their three losses were to USC, on March 4 (0-5), April 17 (3-2) and April 22 (3-2).

Other than USC, UCLA is undefeated against the remainder of the tournament field, but did not play No. 8 TCU.

UCLA’s key victories include two pairs of wins against No. 3 Florida State (4-1, 3-2) and No. 4 LSU (4-1, 3-2) on April 3 and 4.

No. 2 USC (26-4): The Trojans spent six weeks at the top of the AVCA beach volleyball poll, the most of any program.

USC is the only team to have beaten No. 1 UCLA (three times), and it split its matches with the East powers No. 3 Florida State (4-1 win, 3-2 loss) and No. 4 LSU (3-2 loss, 3-2 win) on April 3 and 4.

No. 3 Florida State (32-4): Florida State is the only program to have made every championship field in the history of the sport (AVCA 2012-2015, NCAA 2016-2019, 2021). The Seminoles are currently on a ten-win streak dating back to April 10.

FSU won their fifth consecutive CCSA title, and have beaten five of the seven teams in the championship field (FSU has never played Stanford). The Seminoles are 0-2 against UCLA, 1-1 against USC, 4-0 against LSU, 1-0 against LMU, 1-0 against Cal Poly, and 4-0 against TCU.

No. 4 LSU (25-7): Last year the Tigers were the top-ranked team in the country before the pandemic ended the season prematurely. This year the senior-laden team looks to finish what they started.

LSU is led by Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth, the NCAA’s only undefeated pair at 32-0. This is the Tiger’s fourth consecutive NCAA championship appearance. All seven of the LSU losses are against top-four competition: No. 1 UCLA (0-2), No. 2 USC (1-1), and No. 3 FSU (0-4).

No. 5 Loyola Marymount (29-6): Loyola won its second consecutive WCC championship Saturday at Dockweiler beach, beating Pacific and Pepperdine twice.

The Lions are currently riding a nine-match winning streak, and will compete in the championship for the first time.

No. 6 Stanford (23-11): The Cardinal finished third in Saturday’s Pac-12 championships, the program’s best finish. This year Stanford set a program record for most wins in program history (23).

The championship field appearance is the first for Stanford and coach Andrew Fuller.

No. 7 Cal Poly (23-9): Cal Poly won its second consecutive Big West championship out of the loser’s bracket Saturday. The Mustangs started with a win over Bakersfield (5-0) but were sent into the loser’s bracket by Hawai’i (3-2), from where they ran through Long Beach State (4-1) and finally Hawai’i twice (3-2, 3-2).

The NCAA tournament appearance is Poly’s second, following on the heels of their 2019 appearance.

No. 8 TCU (26-8): TCU fell to LSU in the CCSA Aqua bracket semifinals, finishing third in the conference.

The Horned Frogs have set several records this year, including most CCSA tournament wins (3), greatest winning percentage in program history (73.9%), and single-season match victories (112).

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