Today, 7 p.m.
John Wooden Center
As the UCLA women volleyball players filed out of Collins Court after defeating Utah, an unusual trudge characterized their walks, rather than the typical upbeat strides that follow a win.
Fatigue seemed to have caught on, as Wednesday night’s game was the team’s third in six days. No. 6 UCLA’s (14-4, 6-3 Pac-12) long-awaited rest will have to wait, as it plays again today against Colorado (13-7, 3-5).
With so many games in so few days, coach Michael Sealy has been trying to minimize the physical pounding his team has been taking.
“On our days we’re not playing right now, Sealy is really (emphasizing) things we need to get done and not just working us to death. (We’re) working on technical stuff and not getting a lot of jumping in,” said sophomore middle blocker ZoÃ« Nightingale.
Still, this stretch of four games in eight days has been useful as a practice tool.
“Travel’s always tough, the ups and downs, school and a lot of things, so there’s definitely some wear and tear. But it’s some of the same wear and tear that you’re going to get in the NCAA tournament, so at least we’re getting prepped for that,” Sealy said.
But when UCLA takes the court today, they will be fighting more than just physical fatigue.
“I think it’s easier to get mentally drained (from all these games). So as long we’re physically taking care of ourselves and doing all that we have to do off the court, I think we just have to mentally stay in it,” said senior outside hitter Tabi Love.
That focus, though, has been inconsistent for the Bruins all season, despite the fact that they are one of the nation’s top-ranked teams. As UCLA’s energy and effort have wavered during games, its play has as well, allowing the team to fall victim to longer scoring runs by its opponents.
While the team’s motivation falls on its players, Sealy also takes responsibility for the Bruins’ effort every game.
“I think every coach ““ that coaches any sport, any level ““ it’s what you’re looking to try and figure out. Every team is a different Rubik’s Cube and a puzzle you got to solve,” Sealy said.
Despite the prospects of playing against an inconsistent Colorado team and energy burnout, UCLA is still looking to make improvements from Wednesday’s match.
“I think just keeping the momentum on our side (is important). You know having that flow where everything feels good, everything feels great and then playing with the confidence … we know what we can do,” Love said.
When asked the same question, Nightingale kept her goals for the team tonight short and simple: “to have an inspiring game.”
Email Kalra at email@example.com.