#1 UCLA Men's Volleyball (10-1, 6-1)
Opponent: #5 Hawai'i (9-1, 4-1)
When: 9:00 PM PST, Saturday, February 6, 2016
Where: Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, HI
Video: OCSportsTV Live Stream
Live Stats: Hawai'i StatBroadcast
UCLA Men's Volleyball is no longer undefeated. Yesterday's 3-1 loss to the Rainbow Warriors ends the Bruins' season-opening winning streak at 10 games and puts UCLA in jeopardy of leaving Hawai'i as the MPSF's second place team. Only a win in tonight's rematch will keep the Bruins ahead of the Rainbow Warriors in the conference title race.
Although the Bruins started strong in yesterday's match by claiming the first set 25-18, UCLA was well-beaten after that. Hawai'i came roaring back to take sets 2, 3 and 4 by scores of 25-20, 25-23, and 25-18.
Despite the fact that the Rainbow Warriors are a very good attacking team, it was UCLA's own attack that let it down. The Bruins hit an anemic .138 for the match, but it was much worse in the final three sets.
UCLA sophomore OH Jake Arnitz in particular had a poor match. Arnitz came into the match on a bit of hot streak, but managed just 6 kills against Hawai'i while hitting just .091.
But it wasn't just Arnitz who struggled. UCLA lost the battle at the antennae against Hawai'i. Neither Michael Fisher nor Dylan Missry faired substantially better than Arnitz, with only Micah Ma'a turning in a strong performance. Ma'a led the Bruins with 9 kills while hitting .316.
Meanwhile, 36 of the Rainbow Warrior's 45 kills came from two of their outside attackers: Stijn van Tilburg and Sinisa Zarkovic. Those two combined to hit nearly .380 for the match.
If the Bruins are going to even the score tonight, they'll have to do a better job of winning the battle on the outside. Jake Arnitz will have to put yesterday's match out of his mind and and play as well as he did against Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge. Whichever player is given the opportunity to start opposite Arnitz--Fisher, Missry, or JT Hatch--will have to contribute more than the Bruins got from that position yesterday, both offensively and defensively.
This is a gut-check moment for the young Bruins. They have to take whatever they can from yesterday's loss, learn from it, and move on. They can't afford to let the loss dent their confidence. They have to continue to grow, improve and mature.
It's a long season. Championships aren't won in February, but championship teams are built at each step along the way.