UCLA women’s volleyball survived nine lead changes, 17 ties and five set points to take the second set against Arizona.
“I thought it would be more stressful but I think we were all just really focused and we weren’t trying to push too hard,” said sophomore middle blocker Madeleine Gates. “We were just letting things happen.”
No. 18 UCLA (14-8, 7-6 Pac-12) eventually defeated unranked Arizona (9-13, 3-10) in four sets at home Friday.
The Bruins won the first set 25-14 after initially trailing 7-4. In the second set, UCLA was ahead 17-12 but Arizona went on a 10-2 run to go up 22-19 before earning two set points at 24-22.
The Bruins managed to fight off three more set points before a hitting error by the Wildcats, and a kill by freshman outside hitter Jenny Mosser gave them the set 29-27.
“The fact that we were in control and gave it away and had to come back and steal it, that’s good character for us,” said coach Michael Sealy. “It was good that we had to be tough to do that, so I was happy with that.”
UCLA was out-hit 0.250 to 0.171 in set three, losing 25-21.
“We let them go on some runs and we weren’t as terminal offensively,” Gates said.
The Bruins went on to take set four 25-9 and posted seven blocks in the set, including a solo block by Mosser and two combined efforts by senior setter Sarah Sponcil and Gates.
The win came after UCLA lost its previous two matches to Washington and Washington State last weekend.
“It’s definitely just a refresher from not having a great weekend and kind of just being swept in a Pac-12 weekend, to coming in front of our home crowd and taking over again,” said freshman outside hitter Mac May.
UCLA hit 0.299 against Arizona, compared to 0.121 against Washington and 0.126 against Washington State. UCLA defaulted to the outside hitters for much of those matches, but Sponcil kept the middles more involved against Arizona.
Gates posted 13 kills and a .478 hitting percentage with eight blocks and junior middle blocker Kyra Rogers recorded a 0.300 with no errors and four blocks.
“Our middles did a good job of staying in the middle of the court so their middles had to stay,” Sealy said. “We were able to get a lot of outside hitters one-on-one situations.”
Senior outside hitter Reily Buechler registered 16 kills while May hit a career-best .636, with just two hitting errors in 22 attempts.
UCLA had a total of 14 blocks, eight of which came from Gates.
“The one-on-ones were insane,” May said. “The big moves that Jenny and Sarah made, those … got us going and brought up the momentum and attitude.”
Gates said that being focused in training this week paid off for the team.
“We came into this game really competitive and wanting to win,” Gates said. “I’m happy about the outcome.”