Men's volleyballUC Irvine 3
For UCLA men’s volleyball coach John Speraw, last weekend proved to be bittersweet.
The Bruins won their first two matches but fell in the championship game of the Asics Invitational in Santa Barbara.
In his UCLA coaching debut on Friday, Speraw earned his 200th career victory after just 11 seasons coaching collegiate volleyball.
The milestone win didn’t come easily. Down two sets to none to the No. 13 Gauchos, Speraw was forced to make a lineup change, subbing in redshirt junior outside hitter Dane Worley to close out the game.
The substitution put UCSB off balance, as Worley and 7-foot junior outside hitter Robart Page combined for 30 kills on the match. The pair led a UCLA rally that earned the Bruins three consecutive set wins.
On Friday night, the No. 5 Bruins (2-1) performed a nearly spot-on impersonation of the Gauchos’ earlier match, coming out of the gate hot against UC San Diego to earn a 2-0 set lead, only to drop the following two sets.
Ultimately the Bruins were able to recover and earn a convincing fifth-set victory, thanks in large part to junior outside hitter Gonzalo Quiroga, who led all players with 17 kills on the match.
Redshirt junior opposite Jonathan Bridgeman also played an instrumental role in the win, contributing 11 kills of his own.
In Saturday night’s championship match, UCLA faced off against defending national champion and top-ranked UC Irvine, a team that Speraw coached to three NCAA titles in 10 years before leaving to succeed UCLA coach Al Scates.
The Bruins won sets three and four after dropping the first two.
Despite a stellar performance from redshirt junior libero Evan Mottram, who had a career-high 20 digs, and a 13-12 lead in the first-to-15 fifth set, UCLA failed to execute down the stretch. The Bruins dropped three straight points to the Anteaters to notch their first loss of the season.
UCLA will look to rebound from Saturday’s loss Tuesday night, when the team makes its debut in the renovated Pauley Pavilion against Cal State Northridge.
Compiled by Andrew Erickson, Bruin Sports senior staff.