Near-perfect, but not effective.
UCLA women’s volleyball finished nonconference play 9-1, but the smaller pin hitters struggled to hit from the left side.
The Bruins might have found their solution in switching to a 6-2 rotation that utilizes both redshirt junior Ryann Chandler and freshman Kylie Miller at setter. This formation allows coach Michael Sealy to play two different hitters on the right side.
“There was too much pressure on our outside hitters before. Every out-of-system ball we had to go left,” Sealy said. “I know Reily (Buechler) still got a ton of swings, but we’re always in a three-hitter rotation, so nobody can double-up and kind of camp out on our left sides.”
After practicing the new rotation for just two days, Miller said that the 6-2 began a bit shaky, but strong passing helped the setters and the hitters get into system.
As No. 9 UCLA (10-1, 1-0 Pac-12) prepares for its home opener against Washington State (11-2, 1-0) Friday night, the emphasis will be on fine-tuning the new system, Sealy said.
“I think we were just running our system, finally. We’ve been struggling with our system, and we finally are running the 6-2,” said junior outside hitter Reily Buechler.
The Cougars, although unranked, are coming off of a 3-1 win over the No. 4 Washington Huskies, marking their first win over their cross-state rivals since 2009.
This victory could help clear the path for the Bruins to win the Pac-12, as the AVCA Coaches poll has Washington, Stanford and UCLA as the only teams in the conference ranked in the top 15. But only if the Bruins can avoid an upset themselves.
“They’re a team that’s always been gutsy. We’ve never had an easy match against them,” Sealy said. “They’re big and they’re talented and they’ve got a lot of experience.”
One such experienced player is senior outside hitter Kyra Holt. Notching 21 kills and 14 digs in Wednesday’s upset over Washington, Holt became the fifth player in Washington State history to record over 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs.
Named to the All-Pac-12 first team in 2015, Holt will test the Bruins’ defense. However, the new 6-2 rotation will ensure that the Bruins always have a hitter-blocker on the right side to contend at the net and limit the Cougars’ star player.