After last night’s two opening round matches, the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Final Four is now set. In the first match, Ohio State defeated UC Irvine three sets to two. The Buckeyes will now face top-seeded Long Beach State tomorrow.
In the second match, host UCLA defeated Harvard, 3-1. Harvard came out tough in the first set. The Crimson and the Bruins batled over the first 18 points and the set was tied 9-9 as a result. The Crimson managed to put together a 3-0 run to take the biggest lead of the set so far. With Harvard up 17-13, the Bruins went on a 7-2 run as UCLA took a 20-19 lead. Following a Harvard timeout, the Crimson came back with another 3-0 run to retake the lead, 22-20. Unfortunately, UCLA could not come back to tie it back up and Harvard won the set 25-23.
Harvard also took an early lead in the second set, but they couldn’t hold onto it. With the score tied 10-10, UCLA took their first lead of the set. After Harvard tied it back up, the Bruins scored 3 of the next 4 points to take their first two-point lead of the set and it was 14-12, UCLA. When UCLA led 15-13, there was a timeout and, like the first set, Harvard came out of the timeout and went on a 3-0 run. This time, however, the Bruins followed with a 5-0 run of their own giving them a 20-16 lead. The teams alternated scoring on the final ten points of the set and UCLA had tied the match up at 1-1.
The Bruins didn’t mess around in the third set. They took a 5-0 lead before Harvard finally scored a point. UCLA then added two more to make it 7-1. With the score 10-5, the Bruins went on another run. This time, it was a 5-1 run and it was 15-6, Bruins. While the teams split the next ten points, UCLA managed to finish the set strong with a 5-0 run to win the set, 25-11.
UCLA started out the fourth set where they left off in the third. They opened it with a 4-1 run. But, Harvard would tie the set up at 7-7. Another 4-1 UCLA run put the Bruins back up, 11-8. That was a big enough lead to keep Harvard at bay, even though the Crimson pulled to within one five different times in the rest of the set. The last time they got that close was at 16-15. The Bruins pulled away from that point and went on to win the fourth set 25-21 and the match, 3-1.
Christian Hessenauer was the player of the match for the Bruins. Hessenauer posted a double-double and led the team with 22 kills and 10 digs. Jake Arnitz and Daenan Gyimah both added 11 kills while Micah Ma’a had 46 assists.
For the match, UCLA outhit Harvard .390 to .195 and the Bruins outhit the Crimson in each set including the first set which was the set Harvard won.
UCLA’s win sets up a rematch of the MPSF Championship Game tomorrow night. This time, however, UCLA will play BYU at Pauley Pavilion where the Bruins swept the Cougars on April 7th. It will be the fourth meeting of the season between the teams. The home team has won every match this year, with BYU winning the two matches between the teams in Provo.
Of course, while tomorrow’s match will be played in UCLA’s home arena, the Bruins will be designated as the visiting team because BYU is the higher seed in the tournament. Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that it will be win or go home tomorrow night in Pauley.
Go Bruins!! Bring home 116!