Saturday, December 7

UCLA men’s volleyball prepares for upcoming season


Vidur Malik / Daily Bruin

After an offseason of globe-trotting and hitting the weight room back home, the men’s volleyball team is looking to bring experience and toughness into the upcoming season.

The team traveled around the world this summer and tested its skills against the competition in Argentina and Canada.

Before classes even began, coach Al Scates and many of his returners went to Argentina in mid-September to play against professional squads. Scates said he takes such an international trip every four years, as per NCAA regulations, which restrict the frequency of such trips.

Given the popularity and quality of volleyball teams in Argentina, Scates said it was a good destination.

“They have gyms with no baskets. The teams have their own hotel, their own gym, their own cafeteria, their own chefs,” Scates said.

Senior outside hitter Garrett Muagututia witnessed the high level of talent in Argentina.

“It was really neat to see the caliber of play in another country at a professional level since we don’t really have that opportunity here, so it was definitely a great experience,” Muagututia said.

The Bruins also got to see the level of commitment the Argentinean players showed toward volleyball.

“They live at the facility, they practice at the facility, they eat at the facility. Everything is done right there, so it’s quite literally their life,” sophomore Nick Vogel said.

In October, the Bruins traveled north of the border to Calgary to participate in the Husky Dino Cup, which is hosted by the University of Calgary. Given their championship performance in last year’s tournament, the Husky Dino Cup was a more familiar setting.

“It was very similar to the trip we took last year,” Vogel said. “We played some of the same teams, we played in the same facility.”

In addition, Vogel and fellow sophomore Thomas Amberg traveled to Pune, India, in July to compete on the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team in the 2009 FIVB World Championship against top national teams.

“We played different teams from all over the world in one tournament,” Vogel said. “The tournament was more of an Olympic tournament where they picked players from the nation and compiled a national team.”

While playing against the world’s best, Vogel said he and Amberg were warmly received by the host country.

“India was extremely, extremely nice to us,” he said. “They were very welcoming. We were probably the second favorite team there other than India.”

Offseason shuffle

With 10 newcomers and several key returners, Scates found himself with one of his deepest teams in years. This depth, Scates said, allows him to move players around as he sees fit.

One move has been to switch Vogel, formerly a starting quick hitter, to opposite. Scates said this has produced additional competition for redshirt sophomore Jack Po ok lales, who manned the opposite spot last season.

Also, senior Brett Perrine, an outside hitter last season, is now at quick hit website hasn’t been updated with these new positions but writer confirmed ter.

“He’s going to be the quickest hitter in the league at that position. They couldn’t stop him down in Argentina,” Scates said.

Junior Weston Dunlap, who sat out last season with knee problems, is practicing with the team.

Heavy lifting

Back in Westwood, the men’s squad has adopted a new weight lifting regimen.

“We’re doing very heavy lifting right now, and so our practices are going to be shorter,” Scates said. “These guys are pretty broken down because they’re building strength, but that strength won’t be evident until they stop lifting for a little while.”

Though the results of the workouts aren’t instant, Scates is confident the improvement will eventually be on display for the rest of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

“It’s going to pay off in the end,” he said.

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