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UCLA Men's Volleyball Closes Out the Regular Season Against Pepperdine

The Bruins meet the Waves tonight in a game with implications for seeding in the MPSF Tournament.

#4 UCLA Men's Volleyball (22-5, 16-5)

Opponent: #6 Pepperdine (13-9, 12-9)

When: 7:00 PM PST, Saturday, April 9, 2016

Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA

Audio: Bruin Live Audio

Video: UCLA Live Stream

Live StatsUCLA Live Stats

UCLA Official Game Preview

UCLA closes out the regular season tonight against Pepperdine. With a victory over the Waves, the Bruins will clinch no worse than the #3 seed in the MPSF Tournament. And if the Bruins claim the third seed in the conference tourney, their first round opponent will almost certainly be Pepperdine.

The Bruins still have a slim chance of claiming the #2 seed, though. If Stanford loses to UCSB tonight, BYU will be the MPSF regular season champion, and UCLA will finish in a tie for second and will earn the second seed in the tournament as the Bruins hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinal. On the other hand, if Long Beach State defeats UC Irvine and UCLA loses, then the Bruins will finish fourth in the conference and will be the #4 seed in the MPSF tourney.

UCLA is in position to finish third because of a huge victory over Stanford on Thursday evening. After losing a pair of matches to BYU last week, the Bruins bounced back against the Cardinal, winning the match in straight sets, 27-25, 25-28, 25-22. It was a terrific performance and, hopefully, will give the Bruins momentum as they head into the postseason.

JT Hatch had one of his best games of the season. He led UCLA with 15 kills and contributed 10 digs. Jake Arnitz hammered 12 kills and added 14 block assists. Micah Ma'a and Hagen Smith split the setting duties in the Bruins' 6-0 offense; Smith finished with 21 assists while Ma'a had 20.

Crucially, UCLA won the battle at the middle of the net against Stanford. Mitch Stahl and Oliver Martin each tallied 3 block assists, which allowed the Bruins to out-block the Cardinal 9.5 to 6. UCLA also out-served Stanford (5 aces to 2 aces), and the Bruins held the Cardinal to a .158 percentage in attack.

Like Stanford, Pepperdine is a big team that dominates opponents at the net. The Bruins swept the Waves back in February, but since then, Pepperdine has earned victories over BYU and Stanford. However, Pepperdine enters tonight's match after losing to UC Santa Barbara earlier in the week, and the Waves are just 3-3 in their last six games.

Pepperdine's only chance of making the NCAA Tournament would be to win the MPSF Tournament. The Bruins still have a good shot at winning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, but they'll probably have to beat the Waves twice to keep that possibility alive.