Gabriel McCarthy, Daily Bruin contributor
Coming off two straight losses against the No. 1 team in the country, the Bruins have a chance to get back on track.
No. 2 UCLA men’s volleyball (14-3, 3-0 MPSF) will face No. 10 Pepperdine (8-3, 2-1 MPSF) at the Firestone Fieldhouse on Friday.
The Waves are one of the strongest serving units in the country, ranking second in team aces per set. This season, Pepperdine has led at the service line with 87 aces and has held their opponents to 32. Outside hitters Alex Harthaller and Colby Harriman lead the team with 18 aces each. The team also has a serving percentage of .822.
“There are a lot of physical guys. … It’s another conference game, so we’ve got to take the conference games really seriously,” said freshman opposite Grant Maleski. “It’ll be fun to face the Waves.”
Coach John Speraw said the Waves’ serving is a contributor to their success and something the Bruins will have to counter through clean passing.
“Serving tough, man – they serve the ball really well,” Speraw said. “There are few teams in the country that get more aces than us and they are one of them. We’re going to have to pass the ball.”
UCLA is currently undefeated in MPSF conference play, but will continue without the impact of its leading scorer. Senior opposite Christian Hessenauer is out indefinitely with a knee injury and has been replaced by Maleski.
Following the match against Pepperdine, UCLA has another three conference games in a row, most notably the March 3 matchup against No. 6 BYU.
Women’s water polo
Claire Britton, Daily Bruin contributor
The No. 4 Bruins (13-1) will travel to Irvine to play in the Barbara Kalbus Invitational this weekend, during which the top-nine teams in the country, along with seven other ranked teams, will compete. Their first round is Friday at 1:45 p.m. against No. 17 UC Santa Barbara (9-5).
With a double overtime game against No. 7 UC Irvine (3-5) last weekend at the Triton Invitational, the Bruins have displayed both strong defense and offense, but coach Adam Wright said he still always sees room for change.
“We’re trying a lot of different lineups, so groups are working with each other a little bit more consistently throughout the week so they get to know each other a little better,” Wright said.
Senior attacker Nicole Reynolds said she believed that this past week was about being efficient and working on doing the small things right in practice to perfect the details of the game. Reynolds said that the team has been focusing on each player individually since the Triton Invitational.
“A personal goal of mine for this upcoming weekend is to make my teammates better, to be able to set them up for a goal,” Reynolds said.
A continuous trend throughout the season has been to work on situations in which the Bruins are down a man, and, for junior goalie Carlee Kapana, it has become a personal goal to perfect those scenarios.
“Something that I’d like to achieve this weekend is getting more stops on five man when we are down 5-on-6,” Kapana said.
Dylan D’Souza, Daily Bruin contributor
After suffering back-to-back losses at the ITA Division I National Women’s Team Indoor Championship, the UCLA women’s tennis team is focused on improving its fitness.
No. 9 UCLA (6-2) will be tested this weekend as it takes on Fresno State (3-5) and No. 34 California (4-1) in consecutive days at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
Recently, coach Stella Sampras Webster has incorporated shuttle runs, a training technique that involves short bursts of speed, into the team’s regimen.
“(We’re) working on legs and lungs,” Sampras Webster said. “They’ve been on the track quite a bit. Mentally, it will help them knowing they can get through these tough, tough fitness days.”
She stated that she hopes the players get tested with long matches and three set matches to gauge the team’s fitness level.
Her team will open their Pac-12 conference slate Saturday against the Bears.
“The only difference between normal teams and conference play is we know the Pac-12 teams better,” Sampras Webster said. “We know their players very well and know what to expect.”
No. 73 senior Terri Fleming, who is 13-6 in singles, is expected to return to the lineup after missing UCLA’s last game against Loyola Marymount.
Angie Forburger, Assistant Sports editor
UCLA men’s tennis improved to No. 4 in the ITA rankings after reaching the finals of the ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship last weekend.
UCLA (11-2) looks to build on that momentum and transition back to playing outdoors Friday at home against Portland (5-4).
“There’s always a chance for a letdown after a big tournament like that,” said coach Billy Martin. “(But) knowing this team and what I saw in Seattle, it looks like a really competitive group of guys, so I think they’ll be ready.”
No. 3 senior Martin Redlicki clinched two matches for UCLA in the tournament – but the freshmen were even more key.
Freshman Bryce Pereira was unbeaten in doubles with junior Maxime Cressy going into the final match.
Freshman Keegan Smith, this week’s Pac-12 Player of the Week, rose to No. 72 in the singles rankings after going undefeated in singles up to the final round.
“I know what they’re capable of,” Martin said. “Against the top teams in the country, they weren’t concerned.”
Portland comes to UCLA led by senior Michail Pervolarakis, ranked No. 36 in singles. The Pilots have yet to face a ranked opponent this season.
“I don’t like anybody coming in and beating our team at home,” Martin said. “I hope that’ll cause (the team) to have a little more sense of urgency and take more pride in the match.”