The Bruins will have another chance to take down the defending champions.
No. 4 UCLA (10-3, 2-0 MPSF) will travel to Long Beach to face No. 1 Long Beach State (12-0, 0-0 Big West) on Saturday. The Bruins lost their first meeting with the 49ers this season in straight sets by scores of 27-29, 22-25 and 17-25, respectively, on Jan. 19. UCLA had 20 attacking errors and hit for .210, while Long Beach State had five attacking errors and a .429 team hitting percentage.
Senior outside hitter Dylan Missry said the Bruins are working on limiting their hitting errors by playing smarter.
“We need to make smarter swings,” Missry said. “Last time we played them, we beat ourselves. They played well, but we need to minimize errors in order to give ourselves a shot.”
Long Beach State has only dropped one set this season. The 49ers are led by opposite Kyle Ensing and outside hitter TJ DeFalco, who have 124 and 130 kills, respectively. DeFalco led the 49ers with 13 kills and hit for .500 in the previous game against the Bruins.
Coach John Speraw said it will be difficult trying to contain the two hitters.
“(DeFalco and Ensing) are guys that you don’t always stop,” Speraw said. “You got to do everything to put pressure on them from a serve and defensive perspective.”
Sophomore middle blocker Grant Maleski said his previous experiences of playing against Long Beach State could help limit DeFalco and Ensing’s impact on the outcome of the game.
“(DeFalco and Ensing) are going to score points,” Maleski said. “Being super fundamental and knowing their tendencies is going to be important for us.”
UCLA will then visit Irvine on Wednesday to play Concordia (5-8, 1-0 MPSF) for the first time this season.
The Eagles have won five of their last seven games after beginning the season with six straight losses.
Concordia has posted its five highest hitting percentages of the season in its five wins, with its season-high mark of .468 coming against UC Santa Cruz on Jan. 31.
The Bruins only dropped one set in their three games against the Eagles last season, but in the set they lost by a score of 28-26, the Bruins hit .188 and had eight attacking errors. Speraw said blocking is one of Concordia’s strengths.
“(Coach) Shawn Patchell does a really good job of teaching blocking,” Speraw said. “He brings that skill set really well to Concordia.”