Monday, May 27

UCLA sand volleyball takes experience from loss to Florida State

Call it a clean sweep of UCLA sand volleyball – five Bruin
pairs up, five down. Call it the Bruins’ first blemish on a
young season – three wins, and now one loss.

The Bruins, however, won’t call it a disappointment.

In UCLA’s loss to Florida State, the word “loss,” temporarily, appeared to be a misnomer. Bruin players and coach Stein Metzger alike found the unevenly displayed scoreboard in favor of Florida State, 5-0, of little significance.

“It went well,” Metzger said of the match. “I liked the way that we came out and performed.”

The No. 6 Bruins (3-1) saw in the No. 4 Seminoles (7-1) a team more experienced and more skilled. They saw opportunities to challenge themselves and pinpoint holes in their game. And for Metzger, he saw a “litmus test” of sorts for a team undefeated, yet fairly untested, on the season prior to Friday’s match.

UCLA didn’t have to dig deep to find, perhaps, its most glaring non-technical weakness – point streaks against.

In the No. 1 doubles match, for example, sophomore Kamila Tan and freshman Jessyka Ngauamo dropped point after point at times – a critical no-no in the quick-pace landscape that is sand volleyball, where short-lived momentum swings can have long-lived results on the outcome. Tan took those tide-turning shifts particularly hard.

“(Jess) pulled me out of some tough situations today by really encouraging me,” Tan said, after her duo dropped the final two sets of a three-set loss.

The match could be described as one such “battle” UCLA had with Florida State. There were plenty of those, and plenty of which the Bruins came out of on the short end.

But UCLA would not leave empty-handed, pocketing the experience of facing the nation’s No. 4-ranked squad. For such a young Bruin team and program in its second year, it’s an invaluable asset.

With time comes the know-how of halting those pivotal momentum shifts against, as Stein pointed out. And with time comes growth.

“I felt even though we lost, it was privative steps up for us as a team,” said senior Madie Smith.

Three steps forward, one step backward to be exact.

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