After beating #11 Penn State in the opening match of the Outrigger Volleyball Invitational in Honolulu yesterday, the #7 Bruins face off against #12 Ohio State this evening. The match begins at 6 PM PST. Unfortunately, it appears that no live video or audio streams will be available.
The Bruins escaped with a narrow victory against an experienced, EIVA championship Penn State team. The final score was 3-2 (25-15, 22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 16-14). After UCLA started with a strong first set, the Bruins were hurt by erratic play in sets 2 and 3 before re-establishing the defensive intensity that stifled the Penn State attack. Penn State hit just 0.213 for the match, but that statistic doesn't accurately reflect the Bruins' defensive performance. When the Bruins' defensive focus and effort was at its best, Penn State hit a measly 0.125 (sets 1 & 4). When the Bruins' defensive intensity waned, Penn State hit over 0.300 (sets 2 & 3). UCLA hit an outstanding 0.398 for the match, but the Bruins gave away far too many points on service errors: UCLA committed a whopping 21 service errors for the match. The only Bruin to serve well was freshman Mitch Stahl--he tied a UCLA record with four straight service aces in the opening set.
The Bruins attack was led by Senior Robart Page with 23 kills. Senior Gonzalo Quiroga and freshman Mitch Stahl chipped in with 15 and 11 kills, respectively, and sophomore middle blocker Trent Kersten hit 0.727. Setter Steve O'Dell recorded 52 assists and libero Ian Sequeira collected 10 digs. Page led the Bruins with 11 digs. (Match stats are from the Penn State website; the UCLA Bruins website doesn't currently have a box score available. You're doing a heck of a job, Dan!)
Coach Speraw used a very short rotation for the match. The only substitute used was freshman Jackson Bantle to replace Stahl in the third set. It will be interesting to see how Coach Speraw uses these two freshman in the following two matches as they compete for the last starting spot. It will also be interesting to see if other teams follow the lead of Penn State by targeting Page in the service game. Finally, the next two matches will shed light on Coach Speraw's plans at libero; has Ian Sequeira won the competition, or will Hagen Smith get another chance to win the job? The start of MPSF for the Bruins is just around the corner. The Outrigger Invitational is Coach Speraw's opportunity to find the answers to those questions.