In light of breast cancer awareness month, pink was the color of choice Wednesday night at Collins Court.
Pink volleyballs replaced the traditional blue and gold ones, pink designs decorated the socks and sleeves of all Bruin players, cheerleaders shook pink pompoms after every Bruin point and coach Michael Sealy was even sporting a pink tie.
But although the coloring was different, the storyline wasn’t, as the successful UCLA squad worked its way to yet another win, this time over visiting Utah.
It wasn’t always stylish for No. 6 UCLA (14-4, 6-3 Pac-12), however, as some sluggish play allowed Utah’s team to hang around in the first two sets. The Utes (11-11, 2-7) kept the score close in those first two sets, but the Bruins finally imposed their will on Utah in the third set to close out the match.
The Bruins are in the middle of playing four games in eight days, a long stretch for any team.
The circumstances may not have allowed the defending national champions to put on a vintage performance, but Sealy is keeping things in perspective.
“I have this unrealistic expectation that we’ll be perfect every night. But even as a staff, we’ve been talking this week and we’re exhausted,” Sealy said.
“The TV matches and the Pac-12 schedule makes it real tough. So originally I was upset we weren’t giving it a 100 percent effort, but at the same time we battled and we did enough to win.”
With the frenetic schedule challenging the Bruins mentally and physically, wins are prioritized over style points. The leaders of the team aren’t ready to use the schedule as an excuse for any shortcomings on the court, but the issue is not going unrecognized.
“I’m definitely tired. It’s been a long week, especially with having games so close together, it’s tough not to be tired or checked out,” said senior outside hitter Rachael Kidder.
Aside from the fatigue, there were a few fresh faces in the starting lineup for the Bruins. Freshman outside hitter Hannah Boland made her first career start after an impressive cameo late in Sunday’s game against California, while freshman setter Becca Strehlow was also inserted into the starting lineup after taking a backseat to sophomore Megan Moenoa in the past five matches.
The last time Strehlow started the team was defeated in five sets against Washington. Things went much better for Strehlow and the Bruins this time around.
“I felt in a more controlled environment this time,” Strehlow said.
“I think my offense and setting has gotten a lot better, and that’s exactly what my team needed from me tonight.”
Sealy hasn’t held a consistent lineup lately, tweaking it a little with each game.
Even superstar Kidder has been seeing a little bit more time out of the game as a result of a flip-flop in the rotations between her and fellow senior outside hitter Tabi Love.
“It is what it is, you can’t really control that (playing time),” Kidder said.
“The best you can do is to do everything you can while you’re in there.”