#1 UCLA Men's Volleyball (10-0, 6-0)
Opponent: #5 Hawai'i (8-1, 3-1)
When: 9:00 PM PST, Friday, February 5, 2016
Where: Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, HI
Video: OCSportsTV Live Stream
Live Stats: Hawai'i StatBroadcast
Official Match Preview | Match Notes (None available)
It's GAMEDAY!!! The No. 1 Bruins take on the No. 5 Rainbow Warriors tonight in game one of this 2 game series pic.twitter.com/8VSnF9eksL— UCLA M. Volleyball (@UCLAMVB) February 5, 2016
The #1 Bruins are in Honolulu this weekend for a two-game set against the 5th-ranked Rainbow Warriors. As I wrote in my season preview, this promises to be an important road trip for UCLA. Aside from the fact that Hawai'i is one of the best teams in the nation, the road trip to play two games in two days in Hawai'i is notoriously difficult.
UCLA's season-opening east coast trip has prepared the young Bruins about as well as possible for the Hawai'i road trip experience. UCLA played 3 matches in 4 days as part of their east coast swing, so Coach Speraw's squad knows what to expect. Of course, the Rainbow Warriors have been doing this multiple times for years, which is part of the tremendous home court advantage that they enjoy.
For those who missed UCLA's 3-1 victory over #12 Cal State Northridge last week, the official site has the highlights:
Jake Arnitz turned in another outstanding performance with 21 kills and 5 blocks. Hagen Smith turned in his finest all-around performance as a setter/hitter with 53 assists, 9 digs and 8 kills while hitting .889.
The one weak spot in UCLA's starting lineup has been at the outside hitter spot opposite Arnitz. Hawai'i native Michael Fisher is likely to start tonight even though he hasn't started recently. Fisher hasn't exactly played his way out of the starting lineup, but he's definitely failed to take advantage of the opportunity he was given to claim the spot. JT Hatch is in a similar position; he hasn't been able to replicate his impressive play as a freshman or his performances for the national team. That means that the starting spot opposite Arnitz remains wide open, and at this point freshman Dylan Missry has to be considered in the mix as well.
The Rainbow Warriors are one of the best attacking teams in the country. The Bruins will need to use their serve to put pressure on the Hawai'i offense. Serving has been a real strength of UCLA this season--the Bruins will need to use that weapon tonight to disrupt the Rainbow Warrior attack.
Coach Speraw's young Bruins have a big opportunity this weekend. If they serve well and play with poise, the Bruins should still be in first place in the MPSF when they return home at the end of the weekend.