New Mexico State kept is close for the first two sets. But then UCLA women’s volleyball slam the door shut before the Aggies could make any sort of comeback run.
The No. 11 Bruins (4-0) notched a straight-set victory in their first of two matches in the New Mexico State Springhill Suites Invitational by scores of 25-22, 25-23 and 25-17. They will now take on the UNLV Rebels (3-2) Saturday morning to cap off a pair of bouts.
New Mexico State (2-3) rallied a few times in the first two sets, but UCLA was able to keep the Aggies at bay. When they tallied three straight to make it 23-21, senior pin hitter Riley Buechler wiped the opportunity away with a kill to make it 24-21. Then sophomore blocker Madeleine Gates gave the set to UCLA with a kill two points later.
While it trailed for the beginning of the second set, New Mexico State roared back with a five-point stretch that put it ahead 12-9. But the Bruins slowly worked their way back, evening the score up at 16 and then winning nine of the final 16 points. The Aggies couldn’t put together a final push in the third set, hitting a measly .075.
Kills were almost evenly spread out among the UCLA players. Buechler led the team with 11, while freshman pin hitter Mac May and Gates both tallied nine of their own. As a club, the Bruins boasted a .236 hitting percentage, which is less than their season average.
Yet one department coach Michael Sealy saw improvement in was on defense. In just three sets, UCLA accrued 50 digs, led by junior Zana Muno, who’s established herself as the team’s best defender.
As the Bruins continue to keep their undefeated streak alive, the Rebels look to capture a top-25 win in their first chance. UNLV has yet to face a team that matches UCLA’s caliber, but it has faced top-tier programs in the past, such as BYU.
The Rebels’ two most effective players thus far have been junior blocker Elsa Descamps and freshman pin hitter Mariena Hayden. Hayden sports a team-high 63 kills while Descamps owns a second-best 53.
This is your UCLA vs. UNLV women’s volleyball open thread.