UC Riverside 0
Saint mary's 1
san jose state 0
Getting wins on the road is crucial for any team to have a successful season, and so far, that hasn’t been an issue for the UCLA women’s volleyball team.
The No. 14 Bruins, who are now 5-1, won all three of their matches in the SJSU/SMC Tournament in San Jose this weekend. They dropped just one set overall in the tournament, defeating San Jose State 3-0 Thursday and Saint Mary’s 3-1 Friday before finishing off the weekend with a 3-0 sweep of UC Riverside.
Junior middle blocker Sara Sage said the successful weekend helped the Bruins, who were coming off of a four-set loss to Hawai’i in the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational last week.
“To be able to come back and step up and win all of them was a great feeling,” Sage said. “Really good for our confidence.”
UCLA started the tournament with an impressive 25-13, 25-18, 25-17 win over San Jose State. The Bruins led the entire first set and did so for much of the second. The Spartans led early in the second, but an attack error gave the Bruins a 7-6 lead. UCLA led for the rest of the set, and though the Spartans kept it close, the Bruins pulled away late, winning the set with a kill from sophomore outside hitter Mari Hole.
The Bruins closed out the victory with another set in which it never gave up the lead. Sage led the Bruins with 11 kills to match her career high, and set another career-high mark by hitting .667 for the match. The Bruins hit .378 while holding the Spartans to a .122 hitting percentage.
UCLA’s next match, against Saint Mary’s on Friday, featured several scoring runs by each team to either get back in the match or pull away for a victory. After the Bruins took the first set 25-13, the Gaels answered back with a 20-25 second-set win. Both teams went on scoring runs in the second, but the Gaels were able to hang on to a late lead to take the set. Coach Mike Sealy said the Bruins struggled to side out in the second and also noted that the side-out issues were present throughout the match, saying that “both teams could not side out to save their lives.”
The Bruins won 25-19 in the third set, which was again filled with runs from both teams. In the fourth, neither team could pull away early, and there were several ties throughout the set. Saint Mary’s led 22-18 late in the fourth, and the Bruins went on a 5-1 run to force a 23-23 tie. A Saint Mary’s attack error gave the Bruins their 26th point to win the set and the match. Freshman outside hitter Kelly Reeves said the Bruins played more aggressively during their scoring runs in the match.
“Once we get into a groove, we just fly,” Reeves said. “Extend that lead, and just keep attacking.”
After their dramatic win Friday, the Bruins won easily over UC Riverside on Saturday morning, 25-19, 25-19, 25-7. After the Highlanders scored the first point of the match, the Bruins led for the rest of the first set. UCR led 17-14 in the second, but UCLA scored eight straight on its way to a win, and then led the entire third set to close out the match.
Sealy changed his starting lineup for all three matches and said that several starting spots are up for grabs, including the middle blocker and outside hitter positions.
“It’s great that they’re still battling and it’s wide open,” Sealy said. “So I just can’t be closed-minded, thinking that I need to have a starting lineup right now; it literally is wide-open.”