Behind the Score
22: Assists recorded by sophomore setter Megan Moenoa
27: Combined kills between senior outside hitters Rachel Kidder and Tabi Love in Friday's match against Colorado
For a team that has struggled to show killer instincts so far this season, Friday night was a step toward a tougher attitude.
After an inability to finish strong in several key games, the Bruins fought off two set points in the third set to close out a gritty Colorado team Friday.
No. 6 UCLA (15-4, 7-3 Pac-12) dominated the first two sets before things grew a bit more complicated. Colorado (13-8, 3-6) kept pace with the defending national champions in the third set and ultimately earned two set points that put a lively crowd of Bruin supporters on edge.
But after a timeout pep talk by coach Michael Sealy, the Bruins showed the flash of killer instinct that had been missing in crucial moments earlier in the season.
“Sealy just came in really calm and said it was no big deal,” said sophomore setter Megan Moenoa.
“He told us we were going to side-out and then earn some real points to win the game; he jokes sometimes that he can predict the future.”
The Bruins followed the example of their coach and kept their composure. No more than a couple of minutes after the timeout, the Bruins were celebrating their third straight set victory.
Coach Sealy attributed the third set comeback to training, not his telepathic abilities.
“We run that drill in practice all the time, where you’re down like 22-23 having to score a point to catch up and take the lead,” Sealy said.
The final kill went to sophomore outside hitter Karsta Lowe, who missed the previous week after suffering a concussion during practice. Lowe had barely been subbed into the game before the circumstances called on her to help lead the rally.
“It’s hard to come in late. It’s different being on the sidelines than being on the court; it just doesn’t feel the same at all,” Lowe said.
“I’m always worried when I pop off the bench that I might not perform, so getting that last kill was important for me.”
Before facing those two set points, the Bruins had little reason to worry.
The emergence of the Bruins’ killer instinct was not the only positive the Bruins will take away from Friday night. The team also showcased a dominant defense that terrorized opposing hitters.
But, in the eyes of the coach, there will always be things to clean up
“When we look at the video we’re going to be standing in wrong places a lot, not executing balls we should,” Sealy said. “I thought in transition we got the good dig, but we just didn’t get the good set or the good swing.”
Sealy mixed things up and tried to bring some more energy to the team in the second set by changing setters, subbing in Moenoa for freshman Becca Strehlow.
When asked if she thought her performance had been enough to impress her coach, Moenoa just laughed.
“I don’t know,” she said. “He’s pretty hard to impress.”
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