The Bruins anticipate a team out for vengeance.
“Well, we beat them pretty well last time so I think they are going to come back firing,” said sophomore middle blocker Daenan Gyimah. “They want to beat us. They don’t like us.”
No. 4 UCLA men’s volleyball (17-5, 5-2 MPSF) will face No. 14 Concordia University Irvine (10-10, 3-3 Pacwest) at John Wooden Center on Wednesday.
The Bruins swept the Eagles in Irvine at the CU Arena early in February, but Concordia scored over 15 points in all three sets, including an extended second set in which UCLA took the win 28-26.
“They’re going to bring some fire, because I think we beat them in three at their place, but they were all pretty close games,” said senior opposite Christian Hessenauer. “So we just can’t really take it for granted.”
Concordia took down No. 6 Loyola-Chicago in a four-set upset last week, with outside hitter Raymond Barsemian leading the scoring with 18 kills off of a .222 clip. The Eagles followed that game with a loss, where they were swept by No. 15 Fort Wayne (15-6, 3-4 Summit League).
Barsemian is a main outlet for the Concordia offense, leading the team with 231 kills, hitting for .165 and averaging 4.4 points per set. He is closely followed by outside hitter Jonathan Predney, who has 201 kills this season and is hitting .222.
Coach John Speraw said that the Bruins need to return with the same focus as they had the previous win against the Eagles, if they are to win and continue their streak.
“I think we showed a great deal of respect and focus and we are going to have to do the same thing if we want to beat that team,” Speraw said. “You know obviously they beat Loyola the other night and Loyola is a good darn team.”
UCLA will face another conference opponent in No. 13 Grand Canyon this Friday after the match against Concordia. The Bruins have only five matches after this week to boost their resume for the postseason.