No. 6 Beach to Face Four Top-5 Teams
MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – No. 6 LSU (6-2) will travel to the heart of beach volleyball country this weekend to play four of the top five teams in the country in No. 1 UCLA (10-0), No. 2 USC (6-1), No. 3 Pepperdine (6-2) and No. 5 Hawaii (2-2) at the East vs. West Challenge at Manhattan Beach.
“Anytime you play teams that are really good and talented, you want to see how you match up to them when you play your best ball,” said coach Russell Brock. “We want to make sure that our focus is on our side of the net and on executing at a high level.”
This is the third straight year that LSU will compete in the East vs. West Challenge. The Tigers are a combined 2-6 there over the past two seasons.
After starting the season 4-0 with three top-10 wins and vaulting to an all-time program high No. 4 in the nation, the Tigers went 2-2 last weekend, falling to two of the same teams they had beaten the to open the season in Florida State and South Carolina.
LSU will open this weekend Saturday at 12:30 p.m. CT against UCLA, the defending national champion. The Tigers fell the Bruins, 3-0, at the NCAA Championships last year before UCLA went on to win it all. At 5:30 p.m. LSU will face Pepperdine whose only two losses on the year are to UCLA.
LSU and USC will square up at noon on Sunday before the Tigers close the weekend out at 3 p.m. against Hawaii. At the same event last season, LSU became the sixth program all-time to notch at least one victory against USC when the Tigers defeated the Trojans, 4-1.
The victory over USC last season is the only win LSU has against any of these four teams all-time.
“Every year our vision is to find ways to improve,” said Brock. “Last year if we were able to go out and get one, obviously we’re looking to be better than that.”
Manhattan Beach is a storied setting for beach volleyball. With the courts set right off the pier, the fans show up early and stay late, bringing the passion all day long.
“There’s a depth of understanding in that particular environment that makes it a little more valuable,” said Brock. “You have great conversations with people who watch you play. For us as a relatively young program and definitely one that’s outside of the main region of beach volleyball, when those people have an opportunity to watch us play it helps us with recruiting and gives us a good opportunity to showcase our ability in front of a great audience.”
The Tigers will be at home next Friday, March 15 to host their first match ever in the LSU Beach Volleyball Stadium against Coastal Carolina. First serve is slated for 7 p.m.