After two easy victories Friday and Saturday, the UCLA women’s volleyball team lost a hard-fought four-set match to Hawai’i on Sunday.
The Bruins swept their first two matches of the season in the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Honolulu, Hawaii. After taking down Kansas State in three sets in their season opener Friday, the Bruins took the court on Saturday and won another three-setter against San Diego. The Bruins lost to Hawai’i to close out their weekend on Sunday.
Going into their season opener, senior outside hitter Dicey McGraw, who led the team with 34 kills in their three matches, said the team was nervous to begin the year with new players and was relieved to get a win in its first match.
“It was awesome,” McGraw said. “It was almost like a weight off our shoulders. We know how we’ve played in practice, and to be able to play that in the gym with fans all around, it was a great feeling.”
The Wildcats were able to stay with the Bruins in the first set and were up 24-23 and one point away from winning the opening set. McGraw hit a kill to force a 24-24 tie, and sophomore opposite Rachael Kidder and junior middle blocker Katie Camp recorded a block to take the lead before a Wildcat attack error gave the Bruins a 26-24 win for the first set. After the first, the Bruins took the next two sets 25-18, 25-19.
Next up for the Bruins was the No. 22 San Diego Toreros. UCLA hit for a .355 clip in their 25-14 first set victory, while San Diego only hit .037. Throughout the match, UCLA went on timely scoring runs to take control of the match and won the second and third sets 25-19 and 25-21, respectively
After not dropping a set for two consecutive matches, the Bruins lost a four-set battle to Hawai’i. The No. 5 Rainbow Wahine won the first two sets by holding off the Bruins when they cut into the lead, like UCLA did to its opponents in their first two matches. The Bruins were able to take the third 25-18 before losing the fourth 21-25. Coach Mike Sealy said his team was able to turn on the intensity toward the end of the match.
“The girls saw the duality of our team,” Sealy said. “They saw that when we are not emotionally charged we’re not very good, and when they really picked up the slack and fired up in set three and part of set four we played at a pretty high level.”
Kidder said the weekend was an encouraging one, and her team showed that it can compete with the country’s best.
“We’ve learned that we can keep up with great teams like Hawai’i,” Kidder said. “Even though we’re small, we’re not the biggest team, but (we can) definitely keep up with teams like that as long as we work hard.”