The UCLA Men’s Volleyball team defeated Stanford, 3-1, on Thursday night although most fans would have expected a sweep. Unfortunately for the Bruins, BYU swept Pepperdine, 3-0, in clinched the MPSF regular season title and the #1 seed in the MPSF Tournament in the process.
That doesn’t mean that tonight’s match against the Cougars is meaningless. Pepperdine is still a game behind the Bruins and the Waves face Stanford tonight. So, a Bruin win will secure the #2 seed in the MPSF Tournament for UCLA while a loss will leave the Bruins in a tie for second, which could drop them to the #3 seed in the MPSF Tournament.
Obviously, the Bruins don’t want that to happen.
But, the good news is that a win would mean that the results of the Pepperdine-Stanford match are meaningless.
In the three sets the Bruins won against Stanford, they did so pretty easily. They won the first set, 25-15. The first set was tied 1-1 after two points, but that was the only tie of the set as the Bruins won the next two points to go up 3-1 and they never looked back. In fact, in the first set, Stanford was unable to put together any kind of a run. They couldn’t even score on consecutive plays.
In the second set, the teams fought hard through the first half of the set. In fact, the set was tied as late as 16-16. But, at that point, the Cardinal went on their biggest, and some might say only real run of the night. It was a 7-1 run for Stanford that put them up 23-17 and UCLA just couldn’t do anything to keep the Cardinal from winning that set.
In the third set, Stanford had more fight than in the first set. The teams battled through the first half of the set and were tied as late as 13-13. That’s when UCLA went on a 5-1 run and, while the Cardinal tried to come back, they were not able to tie the set back up again. They did make it exciting at the end of the set as they closed UCLA’s lead to just a point at 23-22, but the Bruins shut the door by scoring the next two points and winning set three.
The teams fought early in the fourth set as well and the set was tied 4-4, but, this time, the Bruins finished the set strong. An 11-3 run put UCLA up 15-7. Stanford called a time out at 12-7 in an attempt to end the Bruins run, but it wasn’t until Stanford called another timeout that they were finally able to do so. While the timeout effectively ended the run by UCLA, it was too little, too late for the Cardinal as the Bruins scored 10 of the next 18 points to win the set, 25-15 and the match, 3-1.
Daenan Gyimah led the Bruins in kills with 15 while Christian Hessenauer added 14 more and Jake Arnitz had 9. Micah Ma’a had 44 assists and JT Hatch led UCLA with 8 digs.
UCLA had no attack errors in the first or fourth sets. They hit .586 in the first and an amazing .909 in the fourth. They were weakest in the second set, which should be no surprise, when they only hit .241 and made 6 attack errors. In the third, they hit .241 and made 4 attack errors. Comparitively, Stanford didn’t outhit UCLA in any of the sets, not even the second set which the Cardinal won.
Tonight’s match against BYU will be a good test to see if the Bruins have recovered from that rough patch they hit on their schedule where they lost 4 of 5 matches at the end of February and stretching into March.
BYU was the last team to beat them during that stretch and they did so easily, 3-0. Tonight, the Bruins need to go out there and prove that they deserve to make the NCAA by beating the Cougars at home.
This is your UCLA Bruins vs. BYU Cougars men’s volleyball open thread.