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Heckler amuses as UCLA men’s volleyball beats UCSD

Freshman setter Hagen Smith (center) celebrates his team’s win on Saturday. Smith racked up 54 assists in the win. (Jose Ubeda/Daily Bruin staff)

By Chris Kalra

March 10, 2014 12:17 a.m.

In the pin-drop silence of Pauley Pavilion, not a single
sound could be heard as a UC San Diego men’s volleyball player prepared to
serve.

That was until a Bruin heckler from the stands found his opening.

“You have the body structure of a Teletubby!” he shouted.

As fits of laughter spread among the crowd – a recurring theme Saturday night – the Bruins were busy sweeping the Tritons.

At times, it seemed as if the audience was more entertained by the teasing remarks of a particularly audible Bruin heckler than the play on the court, where UCLA made quick work of UCSD.

“I tell you what, the only reason I heard someone tonight is because they were very funny, and that’s a lost art in heckling,” said coach John Speraw. “Somebody was up there being quite creative tonight … so I respected the creativity and sense of fun that he had.”

Amid the persistent heckling and the noticeable enjoyment by the Bruin fans stood a refocused and more serious UCLA men’s volleyball group, as freshman setter Hagen Smith described it.

Three straight losses prior to a game can do that to a team.

“I think we all realized we were in a very good spot before, but now our backs are against the wall again,” said senior outside hitter Robart Page. “It’s a really tough conference and we had a few slip-ups … but this time I think everyone was ready to work again, ready to go.”

Smith, in particular, was a key cog in the Bruins’ victory. He sent set after set flying to various parts of the court, distributing the ball around evenly and appearing to be in complete control of the game.

Thanks in part to his pinpoint passing, it seemed as if the same pattern – dig, set, kill – by the Bruins was on a nightmarish never-ending replay for the UCSD faithful.

“Considering we recruited (Smith) as a libero, and he didn’t set for a huge portion of this year, I think he’s doing a great job,” Speraw said.

Yet, perhaps the most impressive showing of the night didn’t come from Smith or the No. 5 UCLA men’s volleyball team (14-6, 11-5 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) – it came from the Bruin heckler who likely won’t be forgotten soon by those in attendance.

“I think (the heckler) was on his game. He was on the all-time heck-list tonight,” Page said.

Tuesday is the next UCLA men’s volleyball home match – against Pepperdine at 7 p.m. – as well as another opportunity for the now-infamous heckler to make his next cameo.

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Chris Kalra | Alumnus
Kalra joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2011 and contributed until 2014. He was an assistant Sports editor for the 2013-2014 academic year and spent time on the football, women's basketball, men's soccer and beach volleyball beats.
Kalra joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2011 and contributed until 2014. He was an assistant Sports editor for the 2013-2014 academic year and spent time on the football, women's basketball, men's soccer and beach volleyball beats.
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