When: Saturday, March 15, 8 PM PDT
Where: Pauley Pavilion
Listen: Bruin Audio
Watch: Pac-12 Networks
After losing an important match against fifth-ranked Pepperdine on Tuesday, the seventh-ranked Bruins (14-7, 11-6) dropped into the middle of the MPSF standings. Losses later in the week by some of the teams around UCLA have given the Bruins a chance to move back into a tie with UCSB for fourth place with a win against the #9 Trojans tonight. USC (11-8, 10-8) currently sits in eighth place, a game and a half behind UCLA.
More than anything else, the Bruins need to get healthy before the conference tournament. Spencer Rowe is back, and so is Ian Sequeira, but middle blocker Trent Kersten is still recovering from an ankle sprain and Steve O'Dell continues to be out of action with a foot injury. But the recent slide by UCLA predates the Rowe and Kersten injuries, and the Bruins were playing fairly well for a couple of weeks immediately after Steve O'Dell was sidelined, so there's more to the Bruins' inconsistent play than an unsettled lineup resulting from injuries.
If the Bruins get back to doing the little things right (e.g., passing, blocking), they can turn things around in the last third of the conference schedule and carry some momentum into the conference tournament. A victory against the Trojans is always something to savor, but it will mean even more if it marks the beginning of a winning streak.
The official preview is here.