After losing their first match of the season on Friday night to Hawai’i in four sets, 25-23, 23-25, 23-25, 19-25, the UCLA Men’s Volleyball team returns to the court for a rematch with the Rainbow Warriors.
It wasn’t going to be easy to beat Hawai’i because this weekend’s matches are in Honolulu and the Rainbow Warriors were ranked third in the nation coming into Friday night’s match.
It proved to be even tougher than expected.
The night started off all right for the Bruins with a set one victory. That’s not to say the set wasn’t a battle. It was. The teams split the first twenty-four points before either team was able to have a lead bigger than one. With it tied at 12-12, UCLA scored on consecutive rallies to give the Bruins a 14-12 lead. The teams alternated scoring on the next five points and UCLA led 16-15.
That’s when the Bruins started a 4-0 run to take a 20-15 lead. The teams battled over the next six points and UCLA led 23-18. But, Hawai’i wasn’t going to just roll over. The Rainbow Warriors began a 5-1 run of their own to cut the Bruin lead to 24-23. Finally, on UCLA’s third set point, Micah Ma’a got the ball to Christian Hessenauer who killed it to wrap up the set.
The second set was even tougher. While the teams would end up splitting the first forty-two points for a 21-21 tie, neither team led by more than three points up to that point. With the scored tied 21-21, the Bruins looked like they were going to put the Rainbow Warriors away and go up two sets to none as UCLA scored on the next two rallies to take a 23-21 lead, but a service error by Dylan Missry and attack errors by JT Hatch and Daenan Gyimah gave Hawai’i a 24-23 lead and set point, which they won on the next rally to tie the match up at one set a piece.
The Rainbow Warriors kept that momentum going into the third set by starting off with a 3-0 lead. While the Bruins would, in fact, find themselves down by 8 points, 19-11, they fought their way back by winning twelve of the next seventeen points to make it 24-23, Hawai’i. The comeback was not to be, however, as Hawai’i won the set on their fourth set point to go up 2-1.
In the fourth set, the teams split the first thirty points and were tied 15-15. A service error by Jake Arnitz and a Hawai’i kill put the Rainbow Warriors up 17-15. The teams would split the next eight points and Hawai’i led 21-19. That 21st point for Hawai’i was the start of a 5-0 run for the Rainbow Warriors that closed out the fourth game and earned Hawai’i the win.
In retrospect, the second set collapse seems to have shifted the momentum for the match. Sure, both teams fought hard but if you’re looking for the turning point in the match, this would seem to be it. It makes sense. UCLA was playing well up until that point. In fact, they had a hitting percentage of .400 for the second set, but their hitting percentage in the third set plummeted to just .077 and, while UCLA bounced back to a .125 fourth set hitting percentage, that isn’t going to win matches against one of the top teams in the country.
Tonight, the teams return to the court in Honolulu for a rematch to finish the weekend. The Bruins will need to regroup and get back to their winning ways if they want to keep their #2 ranking this week.
This is your UCLA at Hawai’i men’s volleyball open thread.