Tonight, #4 the UCLA men’s volleyball team hosts the #9 Stanford Cardinal at Pauley Pavilion as the Bruins begin MPSF play.
Last Time Out
On Saturday night, the Bruins defeated then-#10 Lewis University in four sets, 18-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-20. Dylan Missry led the Bruins with 18 kills including two aces. Micah Ma’a recorded a double-double with 29 assists and 10 digs.
In the first set, the Bruins trailed for almost the entire set with the exception of ties at 1-1 and 2-2. After falling behind 13-8, UCLA went on a 4-0 run to close the gap to just a point, 13-12. They also closed to a point at 14-13 and, again, at 15-14. But a 6-1 run by Lewis sealed the deal and the Flyers won the set, 25-18.
UCLA never trailed in the second set. Like the Bruins in the first set, the Flyers tied the set twice early at 2-2 and at 3-3. But a 5-2 run by UCLA put the Bruins up for good. Eventually, UCLA stretched their lead to seven points at 22-15 and the Bruins cruised to a 25-20 set win.
The Bruins fell behind early 3-1 in set three before bouncing back with a 5-1 run to take the lead, 6-4. They would increase the lead to as many as seven points before winning this set easily 25-19.
After the teams alternated the first four points of set four, UCLA took the lead with a 4-0 run, but Lewis did the same thing with the Bruins ahead 10-6 as the Flyers tied the set 10-10. UCLA scored the next three points to take the lead for good. The Bruins would lead by as many as seven in this set and went on to win the set, 25-20, and the match, 3-1.
Last season, the Bruins beat the Cardinal in both meetings three sets to one. The Cardinal looks to be much improved this season as evidenced by the fact that, at 7-3, they have already won more matches this season than last.
That improvement has been rewarded in the AVCA poll where Stanford is ranked ninth. The Cardinal have also beaten a bunch of ranked teams already this season. They swept Ball State when they were ranked 14th and they beat Ohio State when the Buckeyes were ranked seventh. They split a pair of matches against UC Irvine, which was ranked number two at the time, but they did lose a pair of road matches last week to #2 Hawai’i.
The Bruins can’t underestimate the Cardinal heading into tonight’s match. The MPSF is small enough that one loss can affect who wins the regular season title.
This match could go a full five sets, but I think the Bruins will still prevail.
This is your UCLA vs. Stanford men’s volleyball open thread.