UCLA women’s volleyball held Stanford to its lowest hitting percentage of the season.
But the Bruins hitting was even less effective.
No. 12 UCLA (11-5, 4-3 Pac-12) was defeated by No. 3 Stanford (14-2, 7-0) in four sets, hitting only .121 against the Cardinal’s .181.
This was only the second time this year that Stanford hit under .200, so coach Michael Sealy said it was a positive match overall.
“We walk away saying we played tough,” Sealy said. “We’re not worried about a low hitting percentage. We played good defense and made them earn their kills.”
The Bruins struggled offensively in set one, hitting -.045 with only six kills as a team. Defensively, they held the Cardinal to a percentage of .051. But Cardinal outside hitter Kathryn Plummer, who recorded six kills in the set and 21 on the night, led Stanford to win the set.
UCLA never lost the lead in set two and took the win. Sophomore middle blocker Madeleine Gates was hitting .400 after the second set, and already had four kills and four blocks.
“Blocking was pretty strong all around,” Gates said. “Even if they weren’t straight down, (we were) at least getting touches on balls.”
The Bruins finished with eight blocks as a team. Freshman outside hitter Jenny Mosser tallied three, along with 10 kills and six digs.
Playing tough defensively kept UCLA in it throughout each set, Mosser said.
“They had to do something different,” Mosser said. “We were forcing them to hit out and they did the same thing. Both teams were playing really good defense and just keeping the ball alive. Most balls that would drop didn’t.”
Sets three and four came down to 5- and 6-point serving runs by Plummer that led to a Stanford victory.
“It came down to one rotation,” Sealy said. “They had a great server on the line and we didn’t do a good job of getting her off the line. If someone’s going to be ripping that many serves in a row, we’ve got to do a better job of siding out and not letting her get big runs.”
While they had some trouble in serve-receive, the Bruins were able to make strong defensive plays that helped keep the Cardinal from putting the ball down.
Sophomore libero Savvy Simo, senior outside hitter Reily Buechler and senior setter Sarah Sponcil all posted double-digit digs with 17, 13 and 12, respectively.
Despite the loss, UCLA kept it close and won a set against a Stanford team who had not lost a set in four straight matches.
“We can play at a high level and force them to do things that they don’t normally have to do,” Sealy said. “They beat teams 3-0 and roll over people and we made them work tonight.”