The Bruins have maintained a six-game winning streak by defeating their two conference opponents thus far.
No. 2 UCLA men’s volleyball (13-1, 2-0 MPSF) will host its rival, No. 15 USC (4-8, 1-1), in Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday.
“It is always fun to play against USC,” said coach John Speraw. “USC is a rival, that’s cliche, but it does bring out the best in everybody, so I think people will see a really hard fought battle.”
The Bruins defeated the Trojans twice last season.
In January of last season, UCLA edged out USC in hitting with .309 to .208. The Bruins also completed more kills than the Trojans, besting them 55 to 47. UCLA outblocked USC 13 to 7 and earned six aces compared to USC’s five. The Bruins also claimed fewer errors, with only 17 while the Trojans had 21.
When the Bruins played the Trojans again in March, they were still able to come out on top. UCLA played a repeat performance of January by besting USC in hitting percentage, blocking and aces.
“USC has struggled a little in the past, but they have a pretty good combination of guys with some pretty good arms, so I think its just a matter of time before they start winning some more games,” said junior outside hitter Dylan Missry.
Speraw said that the Bruins’ balanced offense has contributed to their success.
“Our ball control is really good,” Speraw said. “Our serves while at times can get a high number of aces still have a lot of downsides, and I’d like to see if we can continue improving there.”
The Trojans pose a competitive offense with junior outside hitter Jack Wyett, who averages 3.77 kills per set, which is fifth in the nation. The Bruins’ leading hitter senior opposite Christian Hessenauer ranks 15th in the nation with 3.44 kills per set.
Speraw said that he expects a high level of intensity that will give the players focus.
UCLA added to its winning streak Thursday and Saturday by sweeping both Concordia and Grand Canyon.
UCLA hit a season high of .495 against Grand Canyon, marking its fifth consecutive match of hitting at least .400. Junior setter/opposite Micah Ma’a has attributed this offensive success to the Bruins’ passing.
“We’ve been in system that makes my job really easy and in turn makes the hitters job really easy,” Ma’a said. “It all starts with the first touch and we’ve been carrying it really well, so if we can keep doing that we can keep hitting high”.
Ma’a, the AVCA National Player of the Week, leads the nation with 10.94 assists per set.
“We’ve been passing the ball well, and if we can get Micah Ma’a up to the net, it shouldn’t be too hard to put the ball away as he has put us in some pretty good spots to succeed,” Missry said.