#6 UCLA Men’s Volleyball (16-7, 9-6)
Opponent: Cal Baptist (7-18, 2-13)
When: Saturday, April 1, 2017, 7:00 PM PT
Where: Van Dyne Gym, Riverside, CA
Audio: Bruin Live Audio
Streaming Video: None
Live Stats: Lancers Stretch Internet
UCLA's sweep of USC on Wednesday night allowed the Bruins to clinch a spot in the MPSF Tournament. More importantly, it kept alive the Bruins' chances of finishing in the top-4, which would allow UCLA to host a first round conference tournament match.
The quality of UCLA's performance was impressive, too. None of the sets were particularly close (25-18, 25-19, 25-17), and the Bruins dominated in every important statistical measure. The Bruins out-hit the Trojans (.373 to .088), out-served the Trojans (8 aces to 0), and out-blocked the Trojans (10.5 to 6.0). From the first serve of the match to the final kill, UCLA dominated Southern Cal.
The Bruins' two outside hitters were fantastic. Jake Arnitz led UCLA with 12 kills while hitting .632, and Dylan Missry added 10 kills and had a .471 attack percentage. Mitch Stahl was a force at the net, registering nine block assists, and although Christian Hessenauer had an off-night in attack, he added five block assists of his own.
Hagen Smith had another strong outing as the sole setter. He tallied 33 assists, three aces, and a team-leading nine digs.
The match video recap (courtesy of the Pac-12 Network) highlights the Bruins' serving prowess, but overlooks how good UCLA's defense was.
After the match, Hagen Smith shared his views on the victory over the Trojans:
The Bruins will try to extend their winning streak to seven games tonight when they travel to Riverside to play Cal Baptist. The Lancers are in last place in the MPSF, but are on a roll of late with four straight wins. However, Limestone, Erskine, Belmont Abbey and UCSB--the Lancers' most recent victims--aren't particularly strong teams, so as long as the Bruins aren't looking past the Lancers, tonight's contest will certainly be the easiest match for the remainder of the season.
In their first meeting of the season back in January--before the injury bug hit Coach Speraw's team--the Bruins swept the Lancers. UCLA should be able to achieve a similar result tonight.
Next week the Bruins have two crucial matches against #4 Hawai'i. If the Bruins can win both, they'll be in decent position to earn serious consideration for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Otherwise UCLA will likely have to win the conference tournament to extend its postseason.
Either way, tonight's tilt with Cal Baptist is a match that the Bruins can't afford to lose.