Two five-set matches were an early test for the Bruins.
“We’re gritty, we’re scrappy,” said coach Michael Sealy. “But by no means are we really dialed in, fine-tuned in what we’re doing offensively yet.”
No. 9 UCLA women’s volleyball (4-0) battled and came out on top against No. 15 Baylor (4-2) and No. 16 San Diego (1-3) on Friday and Sunday, respectively, in its second week of the season.
“Going to five honestly is kind of an advantage to get the team together better and get to know each other better and how we play in stressful situations,” said sophomore opposite Mac May. “There were some sets where we didn’t play very well and we struggled, but we learn and move on and avoid those mistakes again.”
Friday’s match against the Bears came down to the final point.
With the score knotted at 16-16 in set five, UCLA gained the slight advantage with a Baylor attack error and sealed the 18-16 win with an ace from freshman setter Devon Chang.
“That match was really tough,” Chang said. “I’m really proud of the way our team fought and battled.”
The Bruins took an early lead over the Bears in set one and never lost it. The score was tied late at 21-21, but the Bruins won the last 4 points for a 25-21 win.
Baylor responded strong in the second and third sets with 25-15 and 25-11 wins, respectively. The Bruins were outhit .350 to .031 in the third set.
UCLA took the match to five with a 25-21 win in the fourth set.
Chang recorded her first double-double in the match with 31 assists and 15 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Jenny Mosser also posted a double-double with 12 kills and a career-best 20 digs.
But it was May who led the Bruins, setting a career high with 21 kills and tying a personal best with nine digs.
“We’re doing a really great job in transition and just popping all our digs up and then the setters are doing a great job of feeding the outsides,” May said. “And I think that’s probably why (Mosser) and I are getting a lot of sets and finishing the night with a lot of kills.”
In their second match of the weekend, the Bruins got off to slow start against the Toreros, dropping the opening set 25-21.
Aside from two ties, UCLA led throughout the second set en route to a 25-17 set win. San Diego was outhit .068 to .188.
UCLA carried its momentum into the third set, cruising to a 25-13 victory. The Bruins posted nine blocks in the set, with junior middle blocker Madeleine Gates and Chang each recording five.
Set four was reminiscent of the first set, with the Toreros taking an early 13-9 lead and holding it for a 25-19 win.
In the fifth set, the Bruins took a 2-1 lead and then never trailed, marking their fourth-straight win with a 15-11 set victory.
Gates posted the first double-double of her career against the Toreros with 13 kills and 11 blocks, but May again led the Bruins in kills with 14.
Chang recorded her second-straight double-double with 52 assists and 16 digs.
“These hitters are so amazing they make me look really good even on the bad sets,” Chang said. “It’s getting a lot easier as practices and matches go on to find that groove and connect with the hitters better.”
The Bruins will next head to San Luis Obispo to face No. 22 Cal Poly – a team they last defeated in the second round of the 2017 NCAA tournament.
“It’s a great team, a great matchup and obviously there’s a little bit of emotion there,” May said. “So it should be a really interesting weekend, very exciting, dramatic, so I’m pretty excited.”