The Bruins will have their fastest turnaround of the season this weekend.
After facing No. 12 Utah (16-3, 7-1 Pac-12) on Friday in Salt Lake City, No. 13 UCLA women’s volleyball (12-5, 5-3) will go to Boulder, Colorado, on Saturday to take on Colorado (14-5, 4-4).
It will be the first time this year that the Bruins will travel on the same day as the game.
“We’re not going to get the same preparation we normally get,” said coach Michael Sealy. “It’s an opportunity to be gritty and tough. Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s bad.”
Last weekend, UCLA swept California but lost in four close sets to No. 2 Stanford.
Sophomore libero Savvy Simo, who stepped in for sick junior libero Zana Muno, recorded double-digit digs in both matches, with 17 against the Cardinal and 11 against the Golden Bears.
Simo said those games make UCLA ready to face two competitive opponents this weekend.
“We came into practice hungry this week because of our loss against Stanford,” Simo said. “We ended that game with a loss but we were so close. It’s just a matter of time before we’re up at the top.”
Utah comes in winning five consecutive conference games, four of which were on the road. Led by outside hitter Adora Anae, who is ranked fourth in the Pac-12 with 4.3 kills per set, the Utes lead the conference in kills per set with 14.66 and have hit over .300 in eight matches this year.
Senior outside hitter Reily Buechler, who leads the Bruins in kills this season with 198, has played against Anae for three years and knows the strength she brings to the net.
“She’s super smart and hits the ball hard,” Buechler said. “It’s just going to be figuring out defensively what we want to do against their big hitters and then having our offense ready as well.”
Colorado has an offense run by setter Brynna DeLuzio, who is ranked second in the Pac-12 with 11.32 assists per set. Outside hitters Alexa Smith and Frankie Shebby lead the team in kills this year with 279 and 210, respectively.
The Buffaloes may not be as highly ranked as the Utes, but they bring a lineup that will be tough after the quick turnaround, Sealy said.
“(They’re) competitive for sure,” Sealy said. “They’ve got great players, big arms – tough place to play.”
This weekend’s matches will be the first of four straight road games for UCLA.
And every matchup is crucial.
“We’re doing really well because I think we’re going to peak at the right time,” Simo said. “It’s going to be a challenging weekend, but I think we’re ready.”