It was close, but the Bruins pulled it out in the end.
No. 16 UCLA (5-2) women’s volleyball won its match at Long Beach State (6-5) in four sets Thursday night. The Bruins have won the last eight meetings between the teams.
Long Beach took the early lead in the first set, jumping to a 7-4 advantage, but the Bruins took the lead at 19-18. Despite three more ties and two lead changes, UCLA scored 5 points in a row to take the set 25-21.
“We just really fought back on a lot of plays,” said junior middle blocker Madeleine Gates. “There were some plays where it was amazing how people kept the ball in play.”
Long Beach took an early 4-0 lead in the second set and never let up. In the 25-17 set loss, the Bruins were outhit .342 to .200.
The 49ers recorded no blocks in the first two sets and came away with only four total to UCLA’s 11. Six blocks came from Gates, who also had eight kills on the night.
The Bruins took the lead early in the third set with 6 points in a row and at times led by up to 5 points. But the 49ers came back late in the set to tie the score at 23-23 before the Bruins were able to take the set 25-23.
There were nine ties and four lead changes in the fourth set as the teams went back and forth.
The Bruins took the lead for good with an 8-3 run to make it 23-18, but Long Beach again made it close, taking five of the next six. At the end, the Bruins were able to get the 25-23 win to take the match 3-1.
“It’s a Catch-22. I mean, yes, we showed them we were gritty by closing them out, but we let those things get close,” said coach Michael Sealy. “We’ve just got to realize that, going into Pac-12s, there’s a lot of teams where once you let them off the hook you’re not getting it back.”
The point came on a Long Beach attack error, one of 26 throughout the match for the 49ers, compared to the Bruin’s 17 attack errors.
“In moments when we’re down and we try to do too much, I think we can make a lot of errors,” said sophomore outside hitter Mac May. “I think we just need to recognize the situations and make a smarter play out of it, and I think that would help with a lot of the errors.”
May registered her first double-double of the season with 17 kills and a personal best of 11 digs. Freshman setter Devon Chang also recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 34 assists and 11 digs.
The Bruins will start conference play next week with a match at crosstown rival No. 16 USC, with whom UCLA is tied in the NCAA rankings.
“I definitely think USC will get us all hyped up for the rest of Pac-12s,” May said. “It’s going to be tough and we’re going to have to fight, so I’m just really excited to see how our team shows up … against these bigger teams.”