UCLA men’s volleyball continued its winning streak against Princeton, beating the Tigers in their annual matchup for the fourth straight year.
The No. 2 Bruins (9-1) hosted the Tigers (1-6) in their first game since UCLA’s doubleheader in Hawaii, where it dropped the first game and took the second against No. 3 Hawai’i (8-1).
The Bruins struggled to form a decisive lead in the first set despite leading throughout. The largest margin between the teams in that first set was four points. Despite logging 12 kills, the Bruins continued to give up points through service errors, with eight in the first set – they would finish with 21 total.
“Well, their middle blockers were big,” said senior opposite Christian Hessenauer. “They had an interesting rotation with their No. 3 (middle blocker George Huhmann). He played a little bit of opposite and middle. … The biggest thing was understanding what was going to go on and be good on our side.”
Junior outside hitter Dylan Missry led the team with four kills in the first set. He would finish leading the team with nine kills overall and hitting for .615.
“We were focused a lot on our side of the net,” Missry said. “I think we served pretty well. We had a lot of aces.”
The Bruins played with an aggressive, hard-hitting serving strategy, with serves consistently clocking in at over 60 miles per hour. The fastest serve of the night was a 67.9 miles per hour serve from Missry.
UCLA finished with 15 aces, tying a single-game school record. Junior setter Micah Ma’a led the team with six aces and 29 assists.
“(Ma’a) is always putting us in a good spot,” Missry said. “We could pass the ball to 10, 15 feet and (Ma’a) will give us good balls and good opportunities to put them away.”
The Bruins also played well defensively, with 4.5 team blocks in the first set to the Tigers’ one. They would finish with 7.5 team blocks, paced by sophomore middle blocker Daenan Gyimah’s five blocks.
The Tigers started the second set off well, leading three points to begin. UCLA did not lead the game in the set’s first 10 points until it regained the lead at 9-8, later forcing Princeton to take a timeout.
UCLA controlled the set afterwards, holding Princeton to 17 points for the rest of the set. Set two finished with a kill straight down the middle from redshirt senior middle blocker Oliver Martin.
In the deciding third set, the Bruins continued their offensive rhythm, scoring eight of the first 10 points. Yet Princeton came back from its deficit, scoring five unanswered points to make the score close at 13-9.
“We were out of system in terms of offense,” Missry said. “We weren’t passing as well as we could. … We have some big guys and they can hit the ball hard and high so we can sometimes get away with it.”
Despite the Princeton comeback, UCLA regained its lead. Senior outside hitter Jake Arnitz had the last play of the match – an ace to seal the 25-16 win.
“We have (UC Irvine) coming up, so today was good chance to play some ball and work out some systems,” Missry said.
UCLA will visit No. 4 UC Irvine (9-1) on Saturday at the Bren Events Center, where the Bruins beat the Anteaters earlier this season in five sets.