Tuesday, December 10

Bruins pocket first MPSF win with five-set thriller

After starting off the season with two conference losses, the Bruins bounced back with a 3-2 defeat

Garrett Muagututia led the Bruins with 17 kills Wednesday night against UCSB.

Garrett Muagututia led the Bruins with 17 kills Wednesday night against UCSB. Maya Sugarman

The men’s volleyball team took a step in the right direction Wednesday night.

After losing their first two matches, the No. 10 Bruins (2-4, 1-2 MPSF) finally got an MPSF victory against the No. 11 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (1-5, 1-2). The team’s dominant serving and improved blocking was the difference in their 30-19, 23-30, 24-30, 30-25, 15-11 win.

Redshirt sophomore quick hitter Weston Dunlap knows the importance of this victory.

“It feels great,” Dunlap said. “Even though they’re not the best team, still it’s just a start for us. We really needed it.”

The Bruins convincingly won the first set, and showed significantly harder serves and quicker blocks, two areas in which the team has struggled early on in the season. The Bruins finished with 14 blocks, after only posting four in their previous match, a three-set loss against Pepperdine.

Coach Al Scates, who was concerned about his players’ slow play at the net, showed his team film of the Pepperdine loss Wednesday afternoon.

“That was a good visual for us to see how late we were,” Scates said. “I’ve been telling them about it, but to see it is good.”

Though both teams struggled with service errors, the Bruins did improve their serving, blazing nine aces past the Gauchos and holding them to just one.

Scates was satisfied with his team’s serving performance.

“I’m really happy with the serves,” Scates said. “We made fewer errors than they did but we sure served a lot tougher than they did. We forced some bad passes.”

Hitting was up-and-down for the Bruins. After hitting .444 in the first set, the team plummeted down to a .069 clip in the second set, with eight hitting errors, and a .152 clip in the third set, with seven errors. They stepped up in the fourth and fifth sets, hitting .405 and .462 respectively.

UCSB was led by junior outside hitter Jeff Menzel, who finished with 25 kills. For the Bruins, senior outside hitter Garrett Muagututuia, who has been nursing a sore right shoulder for the past week, led the team with 17 kills, adding a .342 clip.

In a UCLA-dominated fifth set, Muagututia carried the team, hitting five kills on six errorless swings. He also contributed to the improved serving with three aces of his own.

“I felt like my team was helping me out but I felt like I wasn’t doing all that good,” Muagututia said.

“Even though my shoulder was hurting, I just sucked it up and kind of pulled through.”

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