An errant pass swooped to the top of the net, but freshman setter Becca Strehlow didn’t give up.
The right-hander leaned forward and shot the ball down with her left hand for the kill during the second set.
Strehlow and the rest of No. 5 UCLA (21-5, 13-4 Pac-12) shot down California (14-13, 8-9) 3-0 behind a sizzling offense in one of its most complete performances of the season.
“We passed well. We set well. All the hitters were on. I thought everyone played with composure … It just seemed like everybody was present, pretty focused in the moment,” coach Michael Sealy said.
UCLA cruised as Strehlow commanded the show. She spread the ball around effectively and delivered well-timed sets, as the Bruins hit .537, their highest hitting percentage of the season.
“Just staying relaxed. When I have so much going on in my head, it doesn’t work so well. So when I stay relaxed and calm, it just transfers over to every single other player,” said Strehlow on how she was able to be so effective. The only snag the Bruins hit on the night came in the second set.
UCLA’s back row passing struggled early in the set as they fell behind 8-12. But the Bruins didn’t panic, and their relaxed demeanor translated into a 9-3 run in their favor.
“We’ve been working on not reacting to stuff like that and being calm, and I think that really showed tonight,” junior defensive specialist and libero Meg Norton said. UCLA rolled for the set win, and then poured it on in the third set, eventually building a ten-point lead. Despite past issues, the Bruins were intent on putting together a complete performance.
“I think we just knew we were comfortable and that we wanted this match 3-0,” Strehlow said.
Now, UCLA has built momentum going into their showdown with No. 1 Stanford (24-2, 16-0) tonight. It will also be the team’s first game in the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion. But for the moment, those exciting prospects took a side back seat to the prevailing sentiment of the night.
“The whole team was clicking. I think when we’re all clicking together, we’re really, really hard to beat,” Sealy said.
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