Two nights, two losses.
No. 9 UCLA women’s volleyball (4-2) dropped two matches both in four sets against No. 22 Cal Poly (7-1) on Thursday and Friday, marking the Bruins’ first losses of the season and their first losses to the Mustangs since 1985.
“We just felt very disconnected,” said junior libero Savvy Simo. “Like however many girls were coming on the court, we were all just individual players, and we were playing against a team that was pretty connected.”
The Bruins dropped Thursday’s first set 25-21 against the Mustangs – just like their matchup in last year’s NCAA tournament.
UCLA was able to come back and even the score at one set apiece with a 25-17 second-set win. But, unlike last year it was unable to get any momentum after that.
The Bruins tied the score three times early in the third set, but the Mustangs never trailed and outhit UCLA .432 to .114 in the set. After taking the lead for good at 8-7, Cal Poly scored 17 of the last 21 points to cruise to a 25-11 win to take a 2-1 set lead.
UCLA took an early 5-1 advantage in the fourth set, but Cal Poly responded with five points in a row to take the lead. Despite the Bruins clawing back twice to tie the score, the Mustangs went on to win the set 25-18, outhitting the Bruins .209 to .080.
“These are the types of games we’re going to have in the future, like in the tournament.” said sophomore outside hitter Jenny Mosser. “So on Friday we just had to focus on coming together as a team.”
The Bruins led from the very first point of Friday’s match, winning the first set 25-17 and outhitting the Mustangs .394 to .222.
But the Mustangs rallied to win the next three sets and take their second win over UCLA in as many days.
The Bruins cut the Mustangs lead to 5-4 in set two before Cal Poly scored five of the next six to go up 9-6. The Mustangs led for the rest of the set, but the Bruins didn’t go down easy.
Down 24-18, UCLA went on a five-point run before Cal Poly took the win 25-23 on their sixth set point, narrowly avoiding a deuce.
“We may not be the best team or the strongest team, but we’re definitely going to fight till the end,” Simo said. “It would have been great to win that set, but even then, we got some momentum.”
The third set went much the same way, with Cal Poly taking up to a 10-point lead. Though UCLA scored some late points to narrow the gap, the Mustangs took the third set 25-19.
Neither team was able to take more than a three-point lead in the fourth set. But with UCLA up 23-21, Cal Poly scored four points in a row to take the match.
Simo tied her career-high 20 digs in Thursday’s match and surpassed that total on Friday with 25 digs.
Freshman setter Devon Chang posted her third double-double of the season with 47 assists and 13 digs Friday, and Mosser recorded her fourth and fifth double-doubles in a row, with 13 kills and 16 digs Thursday and 14 kills and 11 digs Friday.
The Bruins will next face Long Beach State on Thursday in their final nonconference match.
“I think we’re really motivated now,” Mosser said. “It’s not fun losing, but now we know what it feels like, and we don’t want to feel that again.”