Megan and Nicole McNamara closed out their university careers in style — winning their second straight national title.
The 21-year-old twins from Tsawwassen helped the UCLA Bruins repeat at the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The Bruins defeated rival USC 3-0 in Sunday’s final to finish the 2019 campaign with a 35-3 record.
When the McNamaras arrived at the renowned Los Angeles campus back in September 2015, beach volleyball was still in its infancy at the NCAA level.
The first Pac-12 Championship and national tournament was played in the spring of 2016. The twins proved to be the centre piece of head coach Stein Metzger’s rising program as the team’s number one pairing.
The Bruins finished third at the inaugural NCAA Championships and two years later earned their first title. That was followed by another impressive run at Gulf Shores that saw the Bruins produced four straight victories to repeat.
USC entered the eight-team tournament as the No. 1 seed after defeating UCLA three times this season, including twice by 3-2 margins at the Pac-12 Championship. However, the Trojans were upset 3-1 by No. 8 Stetson and would have to climb back into contention in the loser’s bracket.
The No. 2 Bruins avoided the same fate by digging deep to defeat No. 7 Hawaii 3-2 on Friday. The McNamaras delivered the decisive win by rallying to defeat Emily Maglio and Amy Ozee in three sets — 20-22, 21-15, 20-18.
The twins staved off match point then finally secured the victory. Megan recorded 18 kills and seven digs and four aces while Nicole was credited with 15 kills, four digs and three aces.
The Bruins rolled from there — defeating No. 3 Florida State and No. 5 Louisiana State in straight sets to advance to the final.
The McNamaras again rallied to win their match (19-21, 21-19, 15-7) over Florida State’s Alaina Chacon and Madison Fitzpatrick.
Meanwhile, the Trojans battled their way back to the final with wins over Pepperdine, Florida State, Hawaii and LSU.
It set the stage for one last court #1 battle between the McNamaras and the Trojans top pair of Tina Graudina/Abril Bustamante.
The twins were leading the match 21-18, 19-19 when a court #3 win by Zana Muno and Abby Van Winkle secured the championship.
It’s the McNamaras’ sixth team title during their years of school volleyball.
At South Delta Secondary, they won the B.C. Junior crown in their Grade 9 year and that was followed by three straight senior provincial championships from Grades 10-12.
Now two more in university.
“It’s been awesome to watch the sport grow, the talent sky rocket and number of schools that now have beach volleyball. It’s been incredible being part of it,” said Megan.
“Of course I just want thank my parents. Definitely wouldn’t have been possible without them supporting us. In high school, our mom drove us hours upon hours to different practices all over the Lower Mainland. We wouldn’t be here without their support and love.”
The McNamaras will now turn all their attention to the pro beach volleyball circuit. They will also be representing Canada at the World Championships set for June 28-July 7 in Hamburg, Germany.