After falling to unranked USC last weekend, UCLA men’s volleyball risked losing to two consecutive unranked teams when it faced Stanford on Thursday night.
The No. 5 Bruins (21-6, 8-3 MPSF) were able to avoid back-to-back losses by defeating the Cardinal (6-18, 3-8) in four sets at Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA defeated Stanford 25-15 in the first set, 25-22 in the third and 25-15 in the fourth. The Bruins were unable to take the second set, falling to the Cardinal 20-25.
UCLA’s overall hitting percentage fell from .586 in the first set down to .214 in the second.
“(It was) a lull of competitiveness,” said sophomore middle blocker Daenan Gyimah. “We stopped talking out there and less communication leads to more errors.”
The Bruins did not commit a single hitting error in either the first or fourth set, but committed a combined 10 errors in the second and third.
Senior outside hitter Jake Arnitz said that the Bruins were able to capitalize on keeping the Cardinal out of system.
“I think our servers did a really good job – Micah (Ma’a), Kofi (Daenan Gyimah), Dylan (Missry)” Arnitz said. “They all went back there and ripped their serve and kept them out of system, which kept their middles almost out of it. Our serve receive was pretty strong tonight, and that helped us stay in system and keep our middles going.”
UCLA defeated Stanford 3-1 in the schools’ previous meeting, but Cardinal setter Paul Bischoff and outside hitter Jordan Ewert were injured. On Thursday, Stanford’s roster was at full strength. Ewert finished second on the team with eight kills and Bischoff recorded 35 assists and five digs.
“They go from being a team that’s had a tough year to a team that could be a top-five team if they’ve been playing together all year long,” said coach John Speraw.
Opposite Jaylen Jasper earned the most kills on the Cardinal offense, posting 14 kills on the night.
Gyimah completed 15 kills and four blocks. The Bruins had nine total blocks.
“I was really pleased with our block, particularly in the middle and late third set,” Speraw said. “We had a couple of key blocks that helped us to pull away in the third set and to finish the third set.”
UCLA will return to action on Saturday against No. 2 BYU (20-5, 10-1) for senior night.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’ll get to play my best friend on senior night,” Arnitz said. “Historically, we haven’t done very well against BYU, so I’m looking to get a win on senior night and move forward to the playoffs.”