Men’s volleyball loses to Stanford in season opener
Steve O’Dell and the Bruins lost their season-opening match.
By Claire Fahy
Jan. 6, 2014 1:36 a.m.
When asked what factor led to the UCLA men’s volleyball
loss to Stanford Saturday, sophomore setter Steve O’Dell offered a familiar response: inconsistency.
Saturday’s game at UCSB’s Asics Invitational felt like déjà vu, after last year’s team suffered a similar outcome when losing 3-1 to the Cardinal, who were, at that point, tied with UCLA for the No. 4 ranking.
This time around, in its season-opening match, the No. 2 Bruins fell to the No. 5 Cardinal in four sets, going 22-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-22.
The Bruins weren’t on the same page during the loss, according to O’Dell, who finished the game with 44 set assists.
“The back court and the front court need to be more cohesive if we want to win,” O’Dell said.
Winning is this season’s main focus after UCLA fell to Brigham Young University in last year’s Mountain Pacific Sports Federation semifinals. UCLA (0-1) returns this year focused on capturing the school’s 111th NCAA title.
“Our overarching goal is to win the national championship,” said senior middle blocker Spencer Rowe, who had eight kills and three block assists against Stanford. “But to get there we are going to have to do a lot of work over the course of the season. … We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”
Despite last weekend’s losses, UCLA started its quest for 111 strong, capturing victories against Hawaii, Pepperdine and Stanford at USC’s Fall Tournament and winning the annual Student Activities Center Tournament in November.
Although the Bruins would have preferred to start 1-0, they hope they will learn from their tough early experiences as they look forward to the rest of the season.
“We learned today that we have quite a bit to go before we become the team that we are capable of becoming. … I saw a lot of things I need to improve,” said coach John Speraw. “The best part of preseason tournaments is that you get a feel for what you need to work on.”
Despite Saturday’s setback, the Bruins are experienced in overcoming rocky season openers. After an up-and-down beginning to last season, UCLA managed to advance far into the postseason.
Men’s volleyball won’t have to wait long to prove its resilience, as Stanford visits Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 17 for a rematch.
The Bruins travel to Hawaii this weekend for the Outrigger Hotels Invitational in Honolulu, where they will face Penn State, Ohio State and Hawaii.