After dropping a tough match in five sets to BYU on Thursday, the UCLA men’s volleyball team heads to Palo Alto for a match against the Stanford Cardinal tonight at 7:30 pm PT.
Last Time Out
On Thursday night, the UCLA men’s volleyball team traveled to Provo, Utah for a match against the BYU Cougars for what may very well have been the hardest fought match UCLA has had this year as not one but two sets in this match were extended so the winner could win by two. In the end, the Bruins came out on the short end of this one, 32-30, 25-21, 20-25, 16-25, 15-17, after being up 2-0 to start the match.
The first set was one of the two sets that were extended. Instead of the usual 25 points to win the set, UCLA won this set, 32-30. Of the first 20 points in this set, each team scored 10. With the set tied 10-10, UCLA finally broke through to score on three consecutive rallies taking a 13-10 lead, but that was only a part of a bigger 7-2 run which gave the Bruins a 17-12 lead, the biggest lead of the set. But the Cougars scored on seven of the next eleven points to cut UCLA’s lead to two, 21-19. Following a BYU service error which gave UCLA a 23-21 lead, the Cougars scored on consecutive rallies to tie it back up at 23-23. On the next volley, Grant Maleski took a pass from Micah Ma’a and killed it. That gave the Bruins their first set point, but the Cougs weren’t done yet. They scored on consecutive points to give BYU their first set point in this one.
From there, the teams battled back and forth for eleven more points, but neither team was able to gain the two-point advantage needed to claim the set. Finally, with the score tied 30-30, Brandon Rattray broke the tie for the Bruins and Miki Jauhiainen followed with a BYU attack error and UCLA took the first set, 32-30.
The battle continued well into set number two as the teams fought over each point and, after 28 points, the score was tied 14-14. That’s when the Bruins went on a 4-1 run to take an 18-15 lead. Over the next ten points, each team was only able to score consecutive points once and UCLA held onto their three-point lead, 23-20. After a Maleski service error, Micah Ma’a picked up one of his fifteen kills, which he promptly followed with an ace serve to wrap set two in the Bruins’ favor.
UCLA raced out ahead in the third set to a 13-7 lead and it looked like the Bruins were going to sweep the Cougars. But, suddenly, the momentum started to shift. Whereas UCLA could do no wrong early in the set, they could no longer score on consecutive rallies. Instead, it was BYU who was piecing together multiple points. First, it was three points to make it 13-10, Bruins. Then, two more and it was 14-12, UCLA. Four more gave BYU a 16-15 lead. Another two points made it 18-16, Cougars. After a Bruin point made it 18-17, BYU went on a devastating 6-1 run to open up a 24-18 lead. UCLA fought off the first two set points, but then the Cougars scored again to win the set 25-20.
The fourth set was similar to the third, except UCLA didn’t build up the same kind of early lead like they did in the third and the Cougar runs started earlier. The Bruins were leading 8-7 when a 7-1 Cougar run gave BYU a 14-9 lead. A few points later at 15-11, BYU went on a 6-0 run and they took a 21-11 lead. At this point, it was just a matter of time as the teams alternated points and the Cougars had their first set point at 24-14. Again, UCLA held them off twice, but, then, a Bruin service error ended the set in BYU’s favor, 25-16.
In the deciding set, UCLA opened up a two-point lead early, 5-3, and they held on until the Cougars tied it back up at 7-7. The score seesawed back and forth and, soon, the set was tied 13-13. The Bruins took the next point on a BYU attack error, giving them set and match point, but the Cougars fought it off and tied it back up 14-14. Ian Eschenberg gave UCLA the Bruins’ second match point with a kill that made it 15-14, UCLA. Again, though, the Cougars fought it off and tied it 15-15. BYU scored on the next two points to win the set and the match, 17-15.
Tonight’s match against Stanford will likely be another tough one. When the Bruins faced the Cardinal in Westwood at the beginning of February, UCLA needed five sets to beat them and one of those sets did get extended.
Can Stanford play UCLA as tough as the Cougars did? Considering that tonight’s match is a home match for the Cardinal, I’d say it’s likely to be just as tough.
There is one difference. Tonight’s game is being played in the Bay Area, not the mountains of Utah. So, if UCLA tired as the match wore on on Thursday, that’s less likely tonight due to the location of the match.
For that reason, I like the Bruins in this one, even though it could be another five set match.
This is your UCLA vs. Stanford men’s volleyball open thread.