(At the 2/29 game against BYU, the team watches the starters dominate.)
After splitting the series against BYU last weekend, the #4-ranked UCLA Men's Volleyball team traveled to Hawai'i to face the #6 University of Hawai'i Warriors at the Stan Sheriff Center. Volleyball is huge in Hawai'i, and it never ceases to amaze me just how much coverage the sport gets over there. The Stan Sheriff Center can hold 10,300 spectators and it sells out all the time. The volleyball games are broadcast on local TV, and just to see the live streaming video online costs a hair under $7 (for a single game). In contrast, UCLA barely gets out 1,000 fans (if that) and streaming video of the games are free (for the most part, I believe). And you know, UCLA has more national championships than they do. As my husband's grandmother in Hawai'i used to say, "Hoo, watsa matta wit you people. No make sense!"
Anyway, I sadly didn't go see the game myself but thanks to the awesome live stat tracker (like GameTracker, but better!) provided by Hawai'i, I got a sense of how the game went. It must have been tough for the Bruins, to be surrounded by UH fans. And they are not quiet fans, either! Way to go, guys!
The first set started off well enough, with a kill by sophomore Thomas Amberg. After a few errors on each side, Hawai'i began to take a lead with kills by Jonas Umlauft, Brennon Dyer and Steven Hunt. After a UCLA timeout, kills by sophomore Nick Vogel and RS junior Dylan Bowermaster narrowed the lead, but due to Bruin service errors, the Warriors again pulled away to a 10-15 lead. Despite many kills by senior Garrett Muagututia, RS sophomore Jack Polales, Amberg, and Bowermaster, which took them to within one point of Hawai'i, a few more service errors and kills by Hawai'i's Matt Rawson allowed the Warriors to take the first set, 27-30.
Determined to not get into another losing streak, the Bruins started off set two with kills by Muagututia and Amberg. Although service errors persisted, the Bruins overcame them with a service ace by Bowermaster and more kills by Muagututia, Vogel and freshman Jonathan Bridgeman. Hawai'i stayed strong, at times taking a lead with kills by Umlauft and Joshua Walker, but the Bruins were able to answer back with kills by Muagututia, Vogel, Amberg and RS sophomore Jeremy Casebeer. Four straight errors by Hawai'i (despite a media timeout in between) gave the Bruins an edge they never let go. Bruins took the second set, 30-25.
Tied with one set a piece, the Warriors led off set three with two kills, but the Bruins countered with attacks of their own from Polales, Vogel and (who else!) Muagututia. Bruin errors and Warrior kills gave Hawai'i as big as a 6-point lead at one point, but the Bruins slowly caught up to them. Kills by Muagututia, Polales and Casebeer, as well as Warrior errors, allowed the Bruins to come back from behind and take set three, 30-26.
Down two sets to one, the Warriors tried to stem the tide with a set-opening kill by Steven Hunt. But the Bruins weren't giving up, as Polales served up an ace and he and Muagututia continued to pound kills into the Warriors. The Warriors made an uncharacteristic number of service errors in this set, and although they recovered each time with a kill, it never allowed them to break away from the Bruins. Kills by Muagututia and Polales, and a service ace by senior Kevin Ker, took the Bruins to a 16-12 lead. The Warriors fought to close the lead and came as close as 22-21, but attack errors continued to do them in. The Bruins capitalized on those errors and Muagututia, Ker and Polales knocked in kills. An attack error by the Warriors handed the set and game to the Bruins, 30-25.
Muagututia, who led Sunday's game against BYU with a stunning 27 kills, had another great night tonight with 21 kills, fully 25% of the Bruins' total points and the leading scorer on both teams. Hawai'i had a respectable 60 team kills on the night, but what did them in was the 28 attack errors, to the Bruins' 16. The Bruins actually had slightly more service errors than the Warriors tonight (27 vs 24), but I'm hoping that's an aberration, as they've been doing much better on that lately.
Although this was hardly a perfect game, I'm really happy to see that the Bruins didn't let the loss to BYU get them down and hung on to defeat the Warriors on not-so-friendly turf. The two teams meet again tomorrow at 7 pm HST (9 pm PST). Go Bruins!