This season had been nothing but wins for UCLA women’s volleyball.
Until this weekend.
Following two straight-set wins last weekend, No. 11 UCLA (5-2) was swept in back-to-back games by No. 12 Nebraska (5-2).
Having not faced a top-15 team thus far this season, coach Michael Sealy said a weaker performance is expected from tougher competition.
“In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had the luxury of being able to not play clean and still pick up wins,” Sealy said. “But it’s a nice reality check for all of us to know that if you’re going to play against teams like this, you’ve got to be way cleaner with the ball.”
The Bruins struggled offensively Friday against the Cornhuskers, hitting only .097, their lowest percentage of the season.
Freshmen pin hitters Mac May and Jenny Mosser led UCLA with nine and eight kills respectively, but could not outplay a strong Nebraska lineup, which hit .230 overall.
For May, the atmosphere of Nebraska was intense with crowds of over 8,000 both nights, which lowered the team’s confidence and caused errors in execution.
“We struggled with passing and getting the ball up in order for us to get our ball to our hitters,” May said. “On the hitters ourselves, we struggled on putting the ball down.”
Saturday looked similar for UCLA, which hit only .133 against Nebraska’s .301. May, junior middle blocker Kyra Rogers, senior hitter Reily Buechler and sophomore middle Madeleine Gates all posted seven kills.
Gates was also a force for the Bruins on Friday, recording seven kills and hitting .353, along with seven blocks and four digs.
“I was definitely trying to do what I could at the net and just getting any touches on whatever I could,” Gates said.
The Bruins looked to make some tweaks after Friday’s loss, Sealy said, preparing to face the Cornhuskers again the following night. Getting their middles more involved and forcing the opposing hitters to hit from elsewhere were components the team focused on.
With new rule changes this season, a travel day is no longer considered a day off, giving the Bruins only one day of practice before facing Loyola Marymount on Wednesday.
“We definitely found out what we need to work on,” May said. “Now we can build up from there, especially having that experience under our belts and knowing what we need to do in order to compete with those top-level teams.”