With the first of what could be three championship weekends for area schools, there were plenty of winners and losers last weekend.
And the biggest winner was UCLA.
With the national championship won by the men's water polo team Sunday and the advancement of the men's soccer and women's volleyball teams in their NCAA tournaments, UCLA stands six victories from three national championships in the same season, something that hasn't happened at Westwood since the spring of 1988.
The men's soccer team is two victories from the program's fourth national championship. After two consecutive road victories over seeded teams in the tournament, the Bruins will try to make it three in a row when they play second-seeded and defending champion Indiana in a College Cup semifinal at Charlotte, N.C., on Friday.
"Indiana is a program that pretty regularly gets to the Final Four," UCLA Coach Todd Saldana said. "If you consider yourself a top program, Indiana's one of those teams you measure yourself against."
The Bruins, unseeded despite being ranked third, have been dominant in their tournament run, outscoring opponents, 8-2, in three games.
"It's going to feel familiar and we've had success," Saldana said. "We've grown accustomed to travel and we've dealt with the time change and that hasn't affected us. If we had been at home these last three matches, then we'd have to get into a new rhythm.
"So eating hotel food, sleeping in hotels, that will feel like what we do when we're successful."
The ninth-seeded UCLA women's volleyball team, in the third round for the first time since 1995, has a much tougher road. To get to the final four, they have to get by eighth-seeded Pepperdine and top-ranked and top-seeded Penn State at Penn State.
Before Bruin Coach Andy Banachowski can worry about the Nittany Lions, his team has to deal with the team that ended the Bruins' regular season with a loss. The Waves are coming off their first tournament matches at home in team history and have won 15 of their last 16 matches, losing only 11 games in that time.
"This is by far the best team I've ever had," said 17th-year Pepperdine Coach Nina Matthies, whose team advanced to the third round for the first time last season. "Last year was fun because we weren't expected to [get to the third round]. But this year has been nice.
"[Pepperdine's] goal was to get to the final four, and so far we've accomplished all of our goals, one at a time."
It could have been an all-Southern California regional final, if USC had advanced to play Penn State in the other regional semifinal, but the Trojans were beaten by Minnesota.
As difficult as playing at the home of the top-ranked team is, Long Beach State's road to the final four at Hawaii isn't any easier, although it is shorter.
The defending-champion 49ers, in their fourth consecutive regional semifinal, will be at Honolulu this weekend, and on course for a showdown with the third-ranked Rainbows on Friday.
If Long Beach can win, the 49ers will have an early winter vacation, spending the week before the final four in Hawaii rather than coming back home. But getting there will be anything but easy.
Long Beach State lost at Hawaii in September, 3-1.
The shortest trip will be made by UC Santa Barbara, which plays Nebraska at Stanford on Thursday. The Gauchos, seeded second in the Pacific region, have had success up north this season. They defeated then-No. 1 Pacific at Stockton on Oct. 2.
Though his team lost in the second round of the tournament, USC's first-year interim women's volleyball coach, Jerritt Elliott, was named Pacific 10 coach of the year. In the West Coast Conference, Matthies was named coach of the year and Pepperdine outside hitter Stacy Rouwenhorst was named freshman of the year.
UCLA senior midfielder Sasha Victorine picked up two honors recently, being named both Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Pacific Division men's soccer player of the year and one of five finalists for the Hermann Trophy, awarded to the national player of the year. Victorine was joined on the MPSF first team by five teammates, senior defender Steve Shak, senior midfielder Pete Vagenas, junior defender Carlos Bocanegra, junior midfielder Shaun Tsakiris and junior goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Coach Todd Saldana was named Pacific Division co-coach of the year, along with UC Santa Barbara's Tim Vom Steeg.
Paul Stumpf, Gaucho women's soccer coach, was named Big West coach of the year after leading his team to its first winning record in conference play (5-4) and then was promoted from interim to head coach.