#2 UCLA Men’s Volleyball (4-1, 2-0)
Opponent: Cal Baptist (2-3, 1-1)
When: Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 7:30 PM PT
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
Audio: Bruins Live Audio
Video Stream: UCLA Live Stream
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
Second-ranked UCLA (4-1, 2-0) hosts Cal Baptist (2-3, 1-1) tonight with the Bruins looking to keeping their perfect conference record intact. UCLA is currently in sole possession of first place in the MPSF, though that fact partly reflects an odd conference schedule that has four teams including BYU and Hawai'i starting MPSF action a week later than the other teams. So although the Bruins have made an excellent start to the conference season, a loss to a team like Cal Baptist that isn't expected to contend for the MPSF regular season title would be particularly painful.
As expected, UCLA took care of business against UCSD on Saturday, thumping the Tritons 25-15, 25-13, 25-17. In case it isn't obvious from the set scores, the Bruins dominated in all facets of the game. For example, UCLA hit over .500 for the match while limiting the Tritons to an attack percentage barely over zero (.031).
The official site has highlights from the match:
Outside attackers Jake Arnitz and JT Hatch led the Bruins in kills with 9 apiece. Freshman phenom Daenan Gyimah collected four block assists while senior middle blocker Mitch Stahl registered four aces and sophomore Micah Ma'a added three aces.
Also as expected, Coach Speraw gave significant playing time to one of his bench players: opposite Christian Hessenauer. Hessenauer took advantage of the opportunity, notching six kills in nine attacks.
Coach Speraw talked about the flexibility the team has with Hessenauer coming off the bench in his postmatch interview:
And in case you missed the match, check out this unique attack courtesy of Mitch Stahl and Micah Ma'a:
ICYMI: Mitch and Micah invented a new play last night. Talk about team work pic.twitter.com/0B5eGHowk2— UCLA M. Volleyball (@UCLAMVB) January 15, 2017
Tonight's match against the Lancers will undoubtedly be much tougher. Cal Baptist opened their conference season with an upset of #13 Cal State Northridge before losing to #4 Long Beach State two days later. And although the Lancers aren't in the latest AVCA top-15, they are receiving votes.
Cal Baptist features a well-balanced attack. The Lancer's attack is led by senior OH Luis Palos. At 6'7", he can create matchup problems on the outside, but so far this season, he hasn't been very efficient. Junior opposite Kevin Vaz (6'6") has an excellent attack percentage (.355) in 2017, but to date, he's been a third (or fourth) option. Perhaps the key hitter for the Lancers today is junior OH Rohit Paul. Paul leads the Lancers in kills/set, aces, and points.
For what it's worth, Cal Baptist has not been a strong defensive team so far this season; the Lancers' opponents are hitting nearly 80 points higher in attack percentage. That doesn't bode well for Cal Baptist, especially with UCLA hitting .465 in conference play. And with the Bruins serving much better since the start of MPSF action, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bruins earn a third straight sweep tonight.