Tonight, the UCLA men’s volleyball team returns to action with an important MPSF match against the Pepperdine Waves at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu at 7 pm PT.
Last Time Out
An eleven-day break due to finals couldn’t come at a better time for the UCLA men’s volleyball team. That’s because the Bruins have lost two straight MPSF matches and UCLA now only leads the MPSF by 1⁄2 game over BYU which is 6-3 and by a game over the Waves.
When UCLA played Stanford a few weeks ago, the Cardinal defeated the Bruins in five sets, 25-23, 21-25, 19-25, 25-23, 10-15.
The Bruins came out strong against the Cardinal. Over the first fifteen points, UCLA had doubled up Stanford, 10-5. But the Cardinal came back in a big way and they cut the Bruins’ lead to just two at 17-15. A 6-2 run put Stanford ahead, 21-19. A 4-1 mini-run by UCLA put the Bruins ahead again, 23-22, but a service error by Daenan Gyimah tied it back up at 23-23. UCLA got a kill from Grant Maleski to give them set point and a Stanford attack error won the set for the Bruins.
In set two, the teams battled and neither team led by more than two points during the first 40 points of the set and they were tied 20-20 at that point. But, Stanford scored five of the final six points to take the set, 25-21.
If the second set was a battle, the third set wasn’t much of one. In fact, the Bruins ran off four consecutive points with the score, 24-15, just to make it seem closer than it actually was.
UCLA bounced back to take the fourth set, 25-23, winning the last three points to win the set and force the fifth and decisive set.
But, in that set, the Cardinal jumped out to a 6-2 lead before the Bruins could blink and they couldn’t manage to score on more than two consecutive points in the remainder of the set as Stanford won the set, 15-10, and the match, 3-2.
As I said, the Waves are now just one game back from the Bruins in the MPSF standings. That’s important because the regular season MPSF champion hosts the conference tournament and the tournament champion gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, the MPSF Tournament host has the definite advantage of playing in front of a friendly home crowd, rather than having to go on the road to try to win the tournament.
With only four regular season matches left, every match is a must-win.
Overall, the Waves have had a good season. They are undefeated at home and they are currently ranked #4 ahead of the Bruins after UCLA lost that pair of matches to BYU and Stanford, but the rankings and the standings won’t matter tonight.
These two teams went to five sets when they played at Pauley Pavilion a month ago and they will likely do the same again tonight. Can the Bruins steal one from the Waves and hold onto their lead in the MPSF? I hope so.
This is your UCLA Bruins vs. Pepperdine Waves men’s volleyball open thread.