When: Saturday, April 5, 7 PM PDT
Where: Walter Pyramid, Long Beach, CA
Listen: Bruin Audio
Following UCLA's loss to Cal State Northridge on Thursday and a victory by Hawai'i over BYU on Friday, the Bruins find themselves in a tie for eighth place in the MPSF and the final berth for the conference tournament. With Hawai'i holding the tiebreaker (based on head-to-head competition), the Bruins face the prospect of missing postseason play for the first time in the history of the program. The Bruins now have to hope for at least one loss by Hawai'i in their final three games. The only thing that works in UCLA's favor is that Hawai'i closes the season with a very difficult run of games: another home match against #2 BYU (tonight) and a pair of road games against #3 Pepperdine. However, the Bruins still have to play an away match against #6 Long Beach State (tonight) and home games against Cal Baptist and #2 BYU, so UCLA's task to qualify for the postseason is extremely challenging.
Long Beach State (13-8, 16-8) currently sits in sixth place, only one game ahead of the Bruins (12-9, 15-10). The 49ers have been slumping recently, so UCLA is catching them at the right time. The Long Beach State attack is led by senior All-American outside hitter Taylor Crabb. Crabb averages a nation-best 4.8 kills per set. The 49ers also feature two of the nation's best blockers in Jeff Ornee and Taylor Gregory.
The Bruins loss to the Matadors was the result of poor passing and subpar serving and defense. UCLA was good in attack, hitting 0.433 for the match, but allowed the Matadors to hit 0.336 and conceded 9 service aces. In short, the Bruins did plenty of things well, but made plenty of errors too and failed to win crucial points; it's a characteristic of slumping teams, and it's a trend that's difficult to reverse. Unfortunately the Bruins don't have time to work out these problems--they have to turn things around tonight in Long Beach.
The official preview is here.