Watching the UCLA men’s volleyball team practice Wednesday morning, nobody would have guessed they played one of its poorest matches of the season the night before against Long Beach State.
There was no sulking or anger during the scrimmage, but rather playful banter and taunting.
The players’ looseness made the Bruins’ mentality clear: put the loss behind them and move on.
No 1. UCLA (12-2, 7-1 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) will look to rebound from its first loss in more than a month with a pair of wins against No. 13 Hawai’i (6-7, 3-5) this weekend.
The Bruins will match up twice against the Warriors in Honolulu, hoping to prove Tuesday’s loss to Long Beach State was just a minor blip in their schedule.
“I don’t think we played well,” coach Al Scates said. “This won’t happen for the rest of the season. The important thing is we come back and play well in Hawaii.”
The Bruins haven’t had to worry about improving their play for a while.
Coming off of a 10-match winning streak that also featured 21 straight-set wins, the Bruins have cruised through the early part of this season.
UCLA is now at the end of the three-week, six-game road trip, all against tough opponents.
The team earned hard-fought victories over No. 8 Pepperdine, No. 6 USC and No. 15 UC Santa Barbara.
The Bruins’ sole loss came against No. 10 Long Beach State, in a match that went to five sets despite a poor showing by UCLA.
Now, in the final two matches of the trip, the Bruins have just one thing on their minds.
“We have to go out and win,” said Scates. “We have to go out with the attitude we’re just going to win every match and just put (Tuesday’s) match behind us. It was a bad match. It happens.”
This isn’t the Bruins’ first trip across the Pacific. UCLA faced Hawai’i early in the year in the Outrigger Hotels Invitational and won that match 3-0. The Warriors weren’t pushovers in that match, however, and Scates expects no different this weekend.
“Hawai’i was a close match in the previous games when we played them in the Outrigger tournament. They were all close. All three sets were close in Hawaii,” Scates said.
Coming off of two losses against No. 2 UC Irvine in which Hawai’i played well, they’re looking for revenge against a team that beat them earlier this year in the Bruins.
UCLA, though, is coming off of a tough loss of its own and will be just as inspired.
“It definitely motivates us,” said redshirt senior quick hitter Weston Dunlap. “We were really mad that we lost, but we’ve got to learn from our mistakes. We don’t want to feel this feeling again.”
If there’s any place to go to feel better, Hawaii is it, and the Bruins are hoping their trip will be all fun and games.
“Hawaii is always a very fun place to play,” said redshirt senior outside hitter Jeremy Casebeer.
“Great atmosphere and huge crowd. They just had a big game against Irvine. So it should be a competitive game and really fun to play in.”