The #2 UCLA Men’s Volleyball team opens its schedule tonight in Chicago against the #11 Loyola Ramblers.
Last season, the Bruins went to the Final Four before losing in the National Semifinals to eventual National Champion Ohio State. UCLA returns all of their starters from last year’s Final Four team: OH Jake Arnitz, MB Mitch Stahl, MB Oliver Martin, S/H Micah Ma'a, S/H Hagen Smith, OH JT Hatch, and Libero Davis Gillett. The Bruins also return five backups from last year’s team: Opp Christian Hessenauer, OH Michael Fisher, OH Dylan Missry, MB Eric Sprague and OH/Opp Jackson Bantle. As a result of that experience and depth, this year’s team should be poised to make another title run for head coach John Speraw who starts his fifth season at the helm for UCLA.
Despite all that experience, the team is not without newcomers. This year’s newcomers include: OH Sam Kobrine, S Reece Salmons, Libero Sam Jones, and MB Daenan Gyimah.
Tonight’s match against Loyola is just the start of a difficult opening week for the Bruins. Later this week, they will face #13 Penn State and then the defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes in a matchup between #1 and #2.
While Loyola is ranked 11th, their coach Mark Hulse is in his second year as head coach after serving as an assistant coach for four years. While he is an Illinois native, Hulse completed his collegiate career at Pepperdine in 2008 and 2009.
The Ramblers are a tough team at home in Gentile Arena where they were 19-1 last season and are 50-5 since the start of the 2014 season.
#2 UCLA Men’s Volleyball (0-0)
Opponent: Loyola Chicago (0-0)
When: Tuesday, January 3, 2017, 5 PM PT
Where: Gentile Arena, Chicago, IL
Stream: WatchESPN.com and the ESPN App
Live Stats: Loyola StatBroadcast