The Bruins ended the regular season with a defeat.
No. 5 UCLA men’s volleyball (18-8, 8-4 MPSF) lost to No. 6 USC (16-9, 7-5) in five sets by scores of 25-19, 15-25, 25-14, 20-25 and 11-15.
The Bruins started off the match hitting for .684 in the first set and accumulating 13 kills with zero attacking errors. Junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah had five kills in the set and led UCLA with 21 total kills throughout the game.
The Trojans had 13 kills in the first set, but five service errors and three attacking errors from USC contributed the Bruins’ set win.
UCLA could not match its first-set hitting percentage in the second set as it hit for .167 and started the set by dropping the first three points. The Bruins were able to tie the game back up at 8-8 and took the 9-8 lead on a kill from Gyimah.
USC went on to win the next seven points and took a 15-9 lead with four kills, one service ace and two UCLA attacking errors. The Bruins never came back and dropped the set 25-15.
UCLA started the third set on a 4-0 run, with senior setter Micah Ma’a accounting for three of the four points – with one service ace and two kills. Ma’a led the Bruins in third set kills with five as UCLA claimed the set by a score of 25-14.
The Bruins lost the fourth set after hitting for .192 and tallying five attacking errors. UCLA kept the set close, trailing by a score of 16-14, but USC went on a 7-2 run and the Bruins fell behind 23-16 before eventually losing 25-20.
Senior outside hitter Dylan Missry said the new lineup is trying to establish better chemistry.
“We’re just trying to gel with our new lineup, but we’ll have it together for the postseason,” Missry said.
The fifth set started with the teams going back and forth, with no team getting a lead bigger than one point until the Bruins took the 6-4 lead. They were unable to hold the lead as USC came back to win the set 15-11, due in part to service aces from setter Jameson McKibbin and middle blocker/opposite Kyle Gear.
Coach John Speraw said USC’s defense played well in the last set.
“They made a couple great digs and defensive plays,” Speraw said. “We did pretty well, just didn’t make enough plays.”
Gyimah said failure to keep up service pressure was a reason for dropping the final set.
“We had inconsistent service pressure and made a couple crucial errors,” Gyimah said.
UCLA has the second seed in the MPSF tournament despite the loss and will next play in the quarterfinals against Concordia University Irvine on April 13 at Pauley Pavilion.