The UCLA men’s volleyball team (9-2), winners of four straight matches, square off against the Brigham Young Cougars (4-3) tonight at the John Wooden Center. First serve is at 7 pm PT and the match will be televised nationally on the Pac-12 Network.
Last Time Out
On Thursday at Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins came from behind on two occasions, outlasting the #9 Stanford Cardinal in five sets (21-25, 25-14, 16-25, 26-24, 15-10). UCLA was led by junior Daenan Gyimah, who had an impressive 25 kills, a career high. Gyimah has been playing good volleyball of late, and leads the MPSF Conference in hitting percentage (.550).
Austin Matautia deserves a shout out for makes some critical plays in the pivotal fourth set which saw UCLA down 16-20, as well as the fifth set. Matautia pounded down a kill when it was 24-24, and UCLA took the set on the next point due to a Stanford error.
The Bruins won without two of their key players, Brandon Rattray and Dylan Missry, who sat out with injuries. Their status for tonight is unknown.
Micah Ma’a had 57 assists, with no errors. It was another solid performance for the four year senior setter. Ma’a leads the MPSF with an average of .71 aces per set.
The Cougars have been one of the best teams in the country for the last three years, but never could claim the natty. BYU were NCAA tournament runners-up in 2016 and ‘17, and made it to the semi-finals last year. This year seems different.
Although BYU is ranked #7 presently, that will change next week, as the Cougars have had a miserable road trip, losing their last three games in straight sets, twice to UCSB and once to Pepperdine. The Gauchos and the Waves are both top ten teams this year, but the manner in which BYU lost—straight sets—should see BYU fall in the rankings this week, even if they are able to upset the Bruins. BYU didn’t even make it to 20 points in any of the three games in the Pepperdine match on Wednesday.
Nevertheless, UCLA should play close attention to sophomore hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez, who leads the MPSF in kills per set at a 4.58 clip.
UCLA and BYU squared off four times last season, with each team winning two matches, with all four victories coming on the home team’s court. UCLA hopes to continue that trend tonight.
UCLA has stubbed its toe once this season against CSUN and has won some close games of late, but BYU’s recent road performances on the West Coast make one wonder if this Cougar squad is as talented as those of the last three years. Prediction: UCLA in four sets.