Washington State 0
When coach Michael Sealy preached speed, the Bruins delivered nothing less than that.
No. 4 UCLA (10-3, 2-2 Pac-12) swept Washington State (10-5, 0-3) in just one hour and nine minutes, their shortest match of the season.
The Bruins’ quick dominance of the Cougars could be attributed to the team’s new offensive system.
“We’re just changing the system we’re running,” Sealy said. “We’re trying to go much faster. (Friday) night was the first time we tried to do it.”
In other words, Sealy wants his team to shorten the time between when the ball leaves the setter’s hands to when the hitter hits it. Ideally, he wants to cut that time in half, he said.
The new system’s trial run against the Cougars worked as the Bruins hit .468, their second most efficient hitting night of the season.
The Bruins hope this new system will pay more dividends later in the season, when the competition gets stiffer. Top teams such as USC and Washington, both of which have beaten UCLA already, tend to be taller, but the Bruins hope to use speed to counteract their height.
“(The new system) will help because teams that are really big are usually good blocking teams, and the only way we can beat them is with speed,” said senior outside hitter Rachael Kidder.
UCLA also made adjustments to their defense when playing against Washington State.
“We haven’t been playing very good defense so far this season. After watching film of the Washington match, we knew that our defense was really off and that was something we need to improve on,” Kidder said.
“So (Friday) night we kind of focused the whole match and really emphasized our defense.”
That focus resulted in the Bruins stifling the Cougars’ offense, limiting them to a well-below-average hitting percentage.
Despite all the offensive and defensive changes, perhaps the largest factor in UCLA’s dominance over Washington State was the Bruins’ mentality.
“We just really came out with a strong, aggressive mindset,” said senior outside hitter Tabi Love.
“We didn’t wait to see how the other team pushed us. We took control and we set the pace ourselves.”