The Bruins began postseason play with a straight-set victory.
No. 2 seed UCLA men’s volleyball (19-8, 8-4 MPSF) defeated No. 7 seed Concordia University Irvine (14-19, 3-9 MPSF) 3-0 on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion to advance to the semifinal round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
“These first-round matches are always challenging because you’re getting on the court for the first time,” said coach John Speraw. “In this situation, you’re favored, they have nothing to lose, and they come in and play well, making us uncomfortable because of the expectations.”
With the win, the Bruins remain undefeated against the Eagles this season – with all three matches being straight-set victories.
Senior outside hitter Dylan Missry and senior setter Micah Ma’a played the final home match of their careers, tallying 23 of the team’s 44 kills. The duo also accounted for eight of UCLA’s nine service aces.
Following its first set loss, Concordia led for most of the second set and needed two points to win the second set at 23-17. A kill by redshirt freshman setter Adam Parks, however, sent Missry to the service line, and he served the final seven points of the set, tallying two service aces.
Missry – who missed over a month due to injury – posted a .464 hitting percentage, which marked his fourth-highest of the season and his highest since returning from injury.
“(Missry) brought the fire,” said redshirt junior opposite Brandon Rattray. “He wanted it so badly, we could see it in his eyes. He’s one of the main reasons that we all kind of picked it up. It was crucial of him to get us all hyped up the way he did tonight.”
Ma’a led the Bruins on a run of his own to help UCLA claim the third set. Following a service error by Concordia outside hitter Jordan Hoppe, Ma’a tallied three service aces and helped the Bruins win the last six points of the match.
“We know that somebody can always go on a run,” Missry said. “We’ve got some guys that can hit the ball pretty well from the service line, so we always have the mindset that we can weather the storm. Whether it’s me, (Ma’a) or (junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah), we can score five or six points at a time.”
The Bruins’ nine service aces were their most of the three matches against Concordia this season. Despite its success from the service line, UCLA’s .316 hitting percentage was its least-efficient mark of the three matches.
Missry said the team will have the opportunity to improve on some of its weaknesses heading into the semifinals.
“We can always work on the block and stuff a little more balls,” Missry said. “Blocking and defense is always going to be a concern.”
Speraw said that the win gives UCLA the chance to continue to improve heading into its match against No. 3 seed USC on Thursday at Pepperdine’s Firestone Fieldhouse.
“We always want to beat the Trojans,” Speraw said. “For us, it’s another opportunity to get in the gym and train for a few more days. We’ll just go and do what we can on Monday and Tuesday, and see what we can sharpen up on Wednesday, and see if we can scratch out a win to earn a few more practice days.”