It all comes down to this. It’s the Best-of-5-sets for the men’s volleyball national championship.
These teams have already played each other twice this season. On February 17th, the 49ers beat the Bruins, 3-1, at home in Long Beach. Then, four days later, on February 21st, they beat the Bruins again at Pauley Pavilion, also by a score of 3-1.
It was the only time this season that UCLA lost at home.
But, today’s match is different.
Today’s match is for the national championship.
After Thursday’s semifinal match against BYU, UCLA has won all 11 NCAA Semifinal matches they’ve played inside Pauley Pavilion. In the previous ten times UCLA won the NCAA Semifinal at Pauley, they went on to win the national championship nine of the ten times.
In other words, UCLA rarely loses national championship matches played in Pauley Pavilion. The only time UCLA lost a national championship match in Pauley was in 2005 when the Bruins lost 3-2 to Pepperdine.
UCLA has not made it back to the title game since that loss. But, Bruin head coach John Speraw has been. He led UC Irvine to three titles in 2007, 2009 and 2012.
Meanwhile, Long Beach State is led by Head Coach Alan Knipe. Knipe has gotten the 49ers to the Final Four four times before this year, but they have not advanced to the championship game since 2004 when they lost to BYU.
Ultimately, though, it’s probably going to come down to the team which makes the fewest attack errors and has the highest hitting percentage.
That will be the key for UCLA. In the previous two meetings against Long Beach State, the 49ers outhit UCLA in both matches. If UCLA expects to win tonight’s match, they will need to have a higher hitting percentage than the 49ers.
This is your Men’s Volleyball National Championship open thread.
Go Bruins!! Bring home 116!!!