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#4 UCLA Men’s Volleyball Heads Down the 405 to Face #1 Long Beach State

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After a tough loss on Wednesday to UCSB, it doesn’t get any easier for the Bruins when they play the top-ranked 49ers.

Grant Maleski had nine kills and four blocks against UCSB on Wednesday.
Don Liebig/uclabruins.com

Tonight, the UCLA men’s volleyball team will travel down the 405 to Long Beach for a match against the top-ranked Long Beach State 49ers at 7 pm PT.

Last Time Out

On Wednesday night, the Bruins were in Santa Barbara for a match against the UCSB Gauchos. It was a tough night for UCLA as they dropped the match in five sets, 18-25, 25-21, 20-25, 25-19, 12-15.

The Bruins had problems attacking the Gauchos throughout the match. In the sets they lost, UCLA’s hitting percentage was under .215 and, for the match, they only hit for .252. tThat’s not a recipe for victory.

In the first set, the Gauchos jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead and they never looked back. The closest the Bruins would get in this set after that was down by two on three separate occasions. UCLA just couldn’t get any closer and they ended up dropping the set, 25-18.

UCSB started off the second set by winning four of the first seven points to take a early 4-3 lead. The Bruins used a 6-1 run to take a 9-5 lead and UCLA didn’t look back in this set. The Guachos were able to get as close as one at 11-10, but the Bruins pulled away again and won the second set, 25-21.

UCLA scored first in the third set and, after four points, the score was tied 2-2. A 5-1 run by UCSB put the Gauchos ahead for good in this set, though a 3-0 mini-run by the Bruins cut the UCSB lead to 7-6. After that UCLA was only able to string together consecutive points twice in this set. With the score 20-13, the Bruins scored on a UCSB service error and an attack error to make it 20-15. They weren’t able to do that again until the Gauchos’ first set point at 24-17 when they pieced together three straight points. But, when that run ended, so did the set and UCSB had a 25-20 set win.

It looked like the fourth set was going to be a battle based on the fact that there were four ties in the first 18 points including one at 9-9, but a 3-0 run at that point put UCLA ahead for good. The set was still within two points when the Bruins led 18-16, but a 5-1 run gave UCLA a 23-17 lead and they went on to win the set, 25-19, to force a fifth and deciding set.

The fifth set was a seesaw battle by each team. UCLA jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead and soon had a 7-5 lead. But a service error and a pair of attack errors gave the Gauchos an 8-7 advantage. The Bruins would tie it up three times at 8-8, 9-9, and 10-10 before UCSB was able to score two consecutive points to make it 12-10. After a UCLA timeout, the Bruins cut the lead back to a point twice, first, at 12-11 and, then, at 13-12. Unfortunately, a Micah Ma’a service error gave the Gauchos a match point and an attack error by Austin Matautia wrapped things up in this one, 15-12.

Long Beach State

The 49ers are the defending national champs and have still only lost one match since the start of last season. They’ve won sixteen matches in a row and they haven’t lost since they visited Hawai’i in mid-April last season.

Outlook

Unfortunately, the Bruins have been victimized by Long Beach State four times since the start of last season and, after Wednesday night’s loss, it looks like they will be again tonight.

But, hey, you never know, right?

As much as I want to believe in the Bruins, I just think that Long Beach State has the best team in the country and I don’t see this one lasting more than three sets like the other three regular season matches. I hope I’m wrong.

This is your UCLA vs. Long Beach State men’s volleyball open thread.


Go Bruins!