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American collegiate finals features FIVB World Tour rising stars

Sara Sponcil is playing in her final collegiate match before joining the FIVB World Tour as a rising star
Gulf Shores, Alabama, USA, May 4, 2019 - With the 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships starting in 54 days in Germany, four of the rising stars on the women's international tour are leading their schools into the final day of competition here Sunday at the American collegiate championships.

With most of the attention at the NCAA Championships focused on Latvian Tina Graudina from Southern California and the Canadian McNamaras (Megan and Nicole) from UCLA, one of the rising stars is Sarah Sponcil, a teammate of the McNamaras and playing for the Lady Bruins as a No. 2 with Lily Justine.

With the McNamara’s match unfinished against LSU’s Claire Coppola/Kristen Nuss, Sponcil and Justine anchored UCLA’s 3-0 victory over the Lady Tigers by posting a 2-0 (21-9, 21-17) win over Agnew/Olivia Powers to capture the winner’s bracket and advance directly to Sunday’s title match.

Like Graudina and the McNamaras, Sponcil is set to compete for the United States in the FIVB World Championships at the end of June in Germany with Kelly Claes, who led USC to the NCAA titles in 2016 and 2017 playing with Sara Hughes.

But for Graudina (Jurmala, Latvia) and her partner Abril Bustamante to reach the NCAA finals Sunday afternoon against UCLA where they will play the McNamaras, the Women of Troy must win the last match in the consolation bracket on Sunday morning over Louisiana State to advance to the title match with the Lady Bruins.

The 21-year-old Graudina and Abril Bustamante had to play twice on Saturday as Southern California dropped its opening match to Stetson on Friday before winning its first consolation bracket game during the afternoon session by eliminating Pepperdine.

The Women of Troy opened play on Saturday with a 3-1 win over Florida State as Graudina and Bustamante defeated Alaina Chacon/Madison Fitzpatrick in two sets. USC did not need the result from Graudina and Bustamante's match with Hawai'i's Emily Maglio (Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada)/Amy Ozee as the Women of Troy clinched the encounter with the islanders by winning matches 3, 4 and 5.

With the ESPN Networks televising the competition, Sunday's schedule will feature the final matches to determine the 2019 NCAA Championships. UCLA are the defending national champions after defeating Florida State in the 2018 NCAA title match. USC captured the 2016 and 2017 NCAA crowns.

9:30 a.m. - Louisiana State vs. Southern California, ESPN2
1 p.m. - UCLA vs. Louisiana State or Southern California, ESPN

Here are Saturday's results on the five courts at Gulf Shores State Park where the attendance was 3,171 to bring the two-day total to 6,218.

Southern California 3, Florida State 1 (Florida State eliminated)
1. Abril Bustamante/Tina Graudina (Jurmala, Latvia), USC def. Alaina Chacon/Madison Fitzpatrick, Florida State, 2-0 (21-15, 21-15)
2. Sammy Slater/Terese Cannon, USC def. Sara Putt/Payton Rund, Florida State, 2-0 (21-14, 21-19)
3. Alexandra Poletto (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)/Haley Hallgren, USC def. Brooke Kuhlman/Avery Poppinga, Florida State, 2-0 (24-22, 21-17)
4. Joy Dennis/Maja Kaiser, USC vs. Payton Caffrey/Molly McBain (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), Florida State, 21-19, 18-21, unfinished
5. Kate Privett/Macy Jerger, Florida State def. Cammie Dorn/Mollie Ebertin, USC, 2-0 (21-16, 21-12)

Canadian Alexandra Poletto

Hawai'i 3, Stetson 0 (Stetson eliminated)
1. Sunniva Helland-Hansen (Øystese, Norway)/Carly Perales, Stetson vs. Emily Maglio (Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada)/Amy Ozee, Hawai'i, 17-21, 21-13, 3-5, unfinished
2. Sammee Thomas/Darby Dunn (South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), Stetson vs. Ari Homayun/Julia Scoles, Hawai’i, 13-21, 21-19, 7-2, unfinished
3. Morgan Martin/Pani Napoleon, Hawai'i def. Ana Costa (Sergipe, Brazil)/Rachel Noble, Stetson, 2-0 (21-15, 21-18)
4. Hi'ilawe Huddleston/Kylin Loker, Hawai'i def. Julie Varga (Fredrikstad, Norway)/Samantha Harris, Stetson, 2-0 (21-14, 21-15)
5. Norene Iosia/Sofia Russo, Hawai'i def. Quinci Birker (Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada)/Rebecca Ingram (Maffra, Victoria, Australia), 2-0 (21-14, 22-20)

UCLA 3, Louisiana State 0
1. Claire Coppola/Kristen Nuss, LSU vs. Megan McNamara/Nicole McNamara (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), UCLA, 19-21, 20-15, unfinished
2. Lily Justine/Sarah Sponcil, UCLA def. Kelli Agnew/Olivia Powers, LSU, 2-0 (21-9, 21-17)
3. Zana Muno/Abby Van Winkle, UCLA def. Ashlyn Rasnick-Pope/Toni Rodriguez, LSU, 2-0 (21-15, 21-12)
4. Savy Simo/Madi Yeomans, UCLA vs. Maddie Ligon/Olivia Beyer, LSU, 21-16, 20-15, unfinished
5. Izzy Carey/Lindsey Sparks, UCLA def. Allison Coens/Hunter Domanski, LSU, 2-0 (21-8, 21-18)

Southern California 3, Hawai'i 0 (Hawai'i eliminated)
1. Bustamante/Graudina (Jurmala, Latvia), USC vs. Maglio (Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada)/Ozee, Hawai'i, 24-22, 13-14, unfinished
2. Slater/Cannon, USC vs. Homayun/Scoles, Hawai’i, 22-20, 16-7, unfinished
3. Poletto (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)/Hallgren, USC def. Martin/Napoleon, Hawai'i, 2-0 (21-14, 22-20)
4. Dennis/Kaiser, USC def. Huddleston/Loker, Hawai'i, 2-0 (21-14, 21-15)
5. Dorn/Ebertin, USC def. Iosia/Russo, Hawai'i, 2-0 (21-17, 21-16)

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