UCLA men’s volleyball posted a hitting percentage of at least .400 for its sixth consecutive match.
No. 2 UCLA (14-1, 3-0 MPSF) swept No. 15 USC (4-9, 1-2) in Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA kept USC at a low hitting percentage of .141 on the match, including a percentage of -.067 in the second set.
“We watched a lot of film, we knew exactly what their tendencies were,” said sophomore middle blocker Daenan Gyimah.
Coach John Speraw said the Bruins can attribute their defensive success to their blocks and serves. Speraw said that although the team’s conversion percentage on defense was high – 79 percent on the night – there are defensive aspects they need to work on.
“When we have those opportunities, we need to be better in transition, better about decisions and better about swings,” Speraw said.
UCLA only made one service reception error on the night, which along with the Bruins’ strong defensive play, set them up to run their offense.
“Once you get balls up, then we can actually transition well, which can keep our hitting percentage high,” said senior opposite Christian Hessenauer.
The Bruins set the bar in the first set with their highest scoring margin of the night.
“We came out in the first set and the guys were ready,” Speraw said. “Taking them 25-15 was a good start.”
UCLA held USC to under 20 points in each set as the Bruins took the remaining two sets 18-25 and 19-25.
“Serving was on and off but once it was there we got some aces which definitely helped us get a lead,” Hessenauer said. “Toward the end we started picking up more balls.”
Speraw said there were opportunities UCLA didn’t capitalize on when facing USC.
“I don’t think we reached our full capabilities this match – there were times when I wasn’t super pleased with our conversion percentage,” Speraw said. “We were able, because of our serve and our block, to get some of those points back and to get the win.”
The Bruins only hit .217 in the second set, but held the Trojans to a negative hitting percentage and were able to again come away with the win. This was also the set in which UCLA had the most hitting errors with six – more than the other two sets combined.
Although the Trojans came close to claiming the lead toward the end of the third set, the Bruins held the victory thanks to two aces by Gyimah to mark the final plays of the game.
“Speraw gives us some leeway on the service line and after you get one ace it gives you some confidence, so I think (Gyimah) did a good job of collecting himself and getting the cut at the end,” Hessenauer said.