Well, UCLA lost two opportunities over the past week to show that the Bruins deserve to be the top team in the country when they were swept in their home-and-home series with #1 Long Beach State 49ers.
On Wednesday night, the result at home was the same as Saturday night’s in Long Beach as the 49ers won in four sets, 21-25, 25-23, 19-25, 21-25. Again, UCLA could only win one set against Long Beach State.
Of course, it didn’t help that the crowd at Pauley was only 1,910 compared to the 4,560 on Saturday at the Pyramid. But, the Bruins needed to win at home after losing the first match on Saturday.
In general, despite the outcome, the Bruins played a better match than they had on Saturday as they cut their attack errors almost in half compared to Saturday. Both teams had a higher hitting percentage than Saturday. The Bruins raised theirs from .191 to a more respectable .315, but the 49ers raised theirs from .343 to .408.
The teams battled to start the first set and split the first 24 points and it was 12-12. At that point, Niners went on a 4-0 run. UCLA broke serve to make it 16-13, but Long Beach State answered to make it 17-13. A 3-0 Bruin run cut UCLA’s deficit to just one and, after the teams split the next four points, it was Long Beach State, 19, UCLA 18. But that was as close as the Bruins got as the 49ers won six of the next nine points to win the first set 25-21.
After the Bruins jumped out to a 2-1 lead, the Niners went on a 5-1 run to take a 6-4 lead in the second set. It would take UCLA sixteen points before they could finally tie the set back up at 13-13. The teams split the next four points before the Bruins would go on a 6-2 run to make it 21-17, Bruins. The Niners would close the gap back to just one at 22-21. Yet, the teams took turns scoring the next five points and the Bruins held on to win 25-23.
There was a series of runs to start the third set. Long Beach State started with a 3-1 run to open the set, but the Bruins powered back with a 6-0 run before the Niners put up a 6-0 run of their own to make it 9-7, Niners. The teams would tie it up at 9-9 and again at 15-15 as the battle continued. The last tie of the set came at 17-17 when Long Beach State scored the first two points of a 5-0 run that left them up 20-17. A kill by Daenan Gyimah closed the gap to just two before Long Beach State scored five of the final six points to win the set, 25-19.
The fourth set started with the Niners scoring the first three points. That would be the biggest lead by either team until Long Beach State started a 4-0 run when the score was tied 19-19, giving the 49ers a 23-19 lead. UCLA would only manage two more points in the set while Long Beach State picked up the two points they needed to win the match.
JT Hatch recorded a double-double for kills and digs with 13 and 10, respectively, while Micah Ma’a also had a double-double with 48 assists and 11 digs. Grant Maleski and Dylan Missry both had double digits in kills in a losing effort.
Tonight, the Bruins travel up PCH to face the Pepperdine Waves at Firestone Fieldhouse. The Waves are ranked 10th in the country. So, it won’t be a cakewalk for the Bruins. But, after losing back-to-back matches for the first time this season, John Speraw will want to get the team back on track with a win on the road.
This is your UCLA Men’s Volleyball at Pepperdine open thread.