During a practice drill on Monday, junior outside hitter Kelly Reeves and sophomore middle blocker ZoÃ« Nightingale rose together in picture-perfect unison to block a hard-hit ball on the left side.
Reeves then walked over to Nightingale and embraced her.
Likewise, No. 6 UCLA (18-5, 10-4 Pac-12) has embraced the concept of moving forward after playing its worst game of the season, a sweep at Arizona (13-12, 5-9) Friday.
“It happens on every level … and it happens to the best of the best. What are you going to do?” said coach Michael Sealy of his team’s poor performance.
While the Bruins usually watch film of each match within a day or two, they haven’t watched the Arizona tape yet and don’t plan to either.
“It was an anomaly and it won’t happen again,” said senior outside hitter Tabi Love.
Instead, Sealy has bigger concerns about his team.
“We need (to run) a precise offense, which we haven’t had yet. We’ve talked about it every week, but it just hasn’t come to fruition. It has to be repeatable,” Sealy said.
“We have to be able to set the right people at the right time, the same sets, over, and over and over again.”
Freshman setter Becca Strehlow and sophomore setter Megan Moenoa have split playing time at the position so far this season. Both have had their share of good and bad stretches of play.
Sealy has been searching for the setter who can consistently run his offense for more than three months, but he indicated that his search may finally be over.
“I think I’m there now,” Sealy said on the full-time starting setter decision.
“I’m going to put a lineup on the floor that I think needs to be consistent for the next month and a half,” Sealy said, alluding to the fact that the starting setter in this weekend’s games and will lead the team going forward to the NCAA tournament.
After totaling only three blocks against Arizona, UCLA rebounded with 16 blocks against Arizona State the following day.
“Against Arizona, our blocking was atrocious. So we went into the next match, saying “˜Let’s block some balls,’ and that was our main goal,” Reeves said.
Nightingale, who led the Bruins in blocking on the night, was the catalyst behind the team’s blocking success.
“ZoÃ«’s a very natural blocker. She’s one of the best natural blockers in the country and always has been,” Sealy said.