Wednesday, January 29

In fourth straight loss, UCLA men’s volleyball falls to Pepperdine

Quick hitter Nick Vogel and the Bruins have been working to improve their serving and blocking. Vidur Malik / Daily Bruin

Coach Al Scates was direct after his team lost to the Pepperdine Waves.

“We’ve got to get some wins,” Scates said.

Victories have been rare for the men’s volleyball team so far, and after UCLA’s (1-4, MPSF 0-2) sweep at the hands of Pepperdine (1-2, 1-1) Friday night, 30-27, 30-22, 30-23, the Bruins are aching for a win.

“We were just a step slow on the block,” Scates said. “That’s the best we’ve hit all year, and we couldn’t stop them because we were late. We were late getting over the net. Everybody was late. I’ve never seen a night like it.”

The Bruins showed intensity early in the match, jumping out to a 21-15 lead before Pepperdine went on a late run and took the set. After the first set, the team was not able to regroup, leading for only one point through the next two sets and eventually losing both.

“Volleyball is such a momentum game, it’s good to keep your energy up, and I think we went from a point of having fun and combining our positive energy to kind of trying to force it,” sophomore quick hitter Nick Vogel said.

Vogel, who had just one block assist of his own, thought that the Bruins did not block to the best of their ability, scraping together only four total blocks.

“We didn’t block well tonight, and normally we should be blocking a lot better than that, but we knew their tendencies, and we weren’t taking them away, and we weren’t doing the fundamentals like we learned them,” Vogel said.

The Bruins’ serving woes continued Friday night, recording 15 service errors and a mere .797 serving percentage to the Waves’ .898 serving percentage.

“What bothers me is the serves were not tough,” Scates said. “We served tough for the first game, and then I thought our serves were easy.”

Scates explained that the Bruins’ “easy” serves paved the way for easy attacking opportunities for the Waves.

“I thought the setter could just go to whoever he wanted to, he had all his options open,” Scates said. “They had so many perfect passes, it was unbelievable.”

Pepperdine hit a .467 clip with only 10 hitting errors to UCLA’s .327 clip and 19 hitting errors.

Senior setter Kevin Ker thought the Waves’ serving took the Bruins out of their usual passing system.

“When we’re not in system like that it’s easy for the other team to block,” Ker said.

Injuries have also started to affect players. Sophomore setter Kyle Caldwell, who splits time with Ker, suffered from a swollen ankle Thursday.

Scates said Caldwell, the team’s best blocker, got an X-ray Friday, which was negative for bone damage, and sat out practice Monday.

“Tonight Kevin would have played because he was setting so well and hitting so well, but I also needed a stopper, and that’s what Caldwell does for us,” Scates said. “They would have both played tonight.”

While Caldwell is out, Ker is ready to be the primary setter.

“I’ve always been ready to step up,” Ker said. “I’ve been in this same position for about four years. A lot of the time I’ve been second string, and I’m always ready to come off the bench. I feel like I add a little fire to our team when I come off the bench.”

Senior outside hitter Garrett Muagututia was also slowed down by a biceps tendon injury in his right arm. Muagututia saw limited practice Monday.

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