Taylor Formico transferred from UCSB to UCLA just last year. So it’s no surprise the junior libero looked right at home at this weekend’s UCSB tournament, tallying a team-high 46 digs as women’s volleyball extended its win streak to six in its penultimate tournament before Pac-12 play.
No. 17 UCLA (7-1) completed a sweep in Isla Vista, rolling through No. 18 San Diego (6-3) on Friday, SMU (7-2) on Saturday, and UCSB (4-5) on Sunday. The Bruins only lost one set all weekend — 24-26 against San Diego in a 3-1 win — and beat both SMU and UCSB in straight sets.
The Bruins played a lot of close games, as seven of their 10 sets this weekend were decided by five points or fewer.
“It seems like a fair bit of the sets that ended up very close, we had big leads and let the opponent bring it back close,” said coach Michael Sealy. “We showed great composure to come back and close it out, but it would be nice to not end up in those situations when it’s in our control.”
Formico also said she saw some advantages to playing such close games early in the season.
“I think winning these games, and not necessarily winning them pretty, but winning them ugly, and knowing that we can still win gives us confidence for the season,” Formico said. “(This winning streak) gives our team a lot of confidence and preparation for the Pac-12, and the Pac-12 is much tougher.”
UCLA only has two more games before conference play begins, with a home game against USC. Junior outside hitter Jordan Anderson, who led the Bruins with 48 kills this weekend, said the preseason has allowed the Bruins to build a lot of trust within the team.
“I just know that Taylor Formico is going to be behind me when a ball gets past my block. People are going to cover when I go up to hit. Just small stuff like that,” Anderson said. “We know when we’re down or when we’re up that if they get on the run we can trust each other and stay even-keeled, and then just finish in the end.”
As UCLA finishes out the preseason, Sealy said he would like to follow more detailed scouting reports and see improvements in game planning.
“I think they’re coming together a little bit. I think we’ve shown that we can make the small plays at important times to win sets,” Sealy said. “We have to keep making those small plays throughout the match.”