UCLA women’s volleyball needed five sets to defeat Colorado on Oct. 21.
But on Thursday, the No. 18 Bruins (16-9, 9-7 Pac-12) swept the No. 24 Buffaloes (19-8, 9-7) and outhit them 0.224 to 0.129.
Coach Michael Sealy said the team had been focusing on hitting well in out-of-system situations in practice.
“I thought we did a much better job taking care of out of system setting and just better quality touches on the ball,” Sealy said after the win over Colorado.
Earlier in the season, after being swept by Nebraska (22-4, 15-1 Big-10), senior outside hitter Reily Buechler also mentioned the need to work on out of system sets.
“We’re not always going to get a perfect pass, so we need to do well when the pass isn’t there, and that’s when we’re going to be a really good team,” Buechler said.
Tipping in out of system situations is also a focus in practice for UCLA.
“Tips are always part of the game plan. We tip it to the setter, … which means they don’t get a real swing coming back and we may win the rally or the next point,” Sealy said. “So a tip doesn’t mean that we’re quitting on the play, it means we’re mindfully choosing to score on the next one.”
Against Colorado, freshman outside hitter Jenny Mosser recorded 14 kills, while sophomore middle blocker Madeleine Gates bagged 10 kills with just one error for a .529 hitting percentage.
Even in Friday’s four-set loss against Utah, UCLA still outhit the Utes 0.185 to 0.162.
Buechler amassed 22 kills, Mosser added 16 and Gates posted 13 with just one hitting error in 24 attempts to hit .500.
Senior setter Sarah Sponcil said a positive for her from the match was that the Bruins were able to manage out of system sets effectively.
“I think for our hitters out of system … they were taking really good, high swings and high reps, and they were really placing the ball well,” Sponcil said. “So I think we had some really great offensive plays.”
UCLA will face No. 2 Stanford (22-3, 15-1) on Thursday, a team the Bruins lost to 3-1 in their previous matchup.
Sponcil said it will be important for UCLA to focus on the little plays including scoring out of system.
“We have all the pieces so just taking care of out of system sets,” Sponcil said. “I think we could get some swings out of that.”
Buechler said she believes the Bruins’ offense has improved since their previous match against Stanford on Oct. 13.
“We played really tough against them last time … and that was early on in the season and I think we’re doing a lot better now offensively,” Buechler said. “So if we play our game like we did against Colorado, I think it’s going to go well against Stanford.”