UC Irvine, USC seniors win USA Volleyball beach national championship

Two All-MPSF seniors have ended their college careers winning a national championship.

UC Irvine setter Michael Saeta and USC outside attacker Lucas Yoder swept UCLA’s Jackson Bantle and Hagen Smith 21-16, 21-13 to win the USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships on Saturday in Hermosa Beach, California.

Saeta and Yoder did not lose a set throughout the three-day tournament. In addition, Lewis’ Matt Yoshimoto and Jake Walenga in the quarterfinals was the only pair to come within two points of beating Saeta and Yoder during their five matches.

The champion pair reached the gold-medal match after sweeping Davenport’s Nathan Vander Meer and Cincinnati Christian’s Logan Webber in the semifinals on Saturday morning. Vander Meer and Webber rebounded from the loss to beat the Hawai’i pair of Brett Rosenmeier and Colton Cowell in three games in the bronze-medal match.

Saeta entered the beach volleyball event after helping guide UC Irvine to the MPSF Tournament semifinals and the No. 5 ranking in the final national coaches poll and national media poll. The setter also was named a finalist for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Server of the Year and was third in the nation with a 0.59 aces per game average.

Yoder despite missing part of his senior season with an injury had a nation-best 4.85 kills per game average. In addition, Yoder helped USC make the MPSF Tournament for its first postseason appearance since 2015.

This was the inaugural year of the USA Volleyball beach event and featured both a men’s and women’s bracket.

A 12-person committee selected the 11 teams in the men’s tournament field.