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Men’s volleyball hands Matadors sixth-straight loss in 3-1 victory

Freshman J.T. Hatch recorded a career-high 17 kills in UCLA’s 3-1 win over Cal State Northridge Tuesday night. (Hannah Ye/Daily Bruin)

By Tanner Walters

March 4, 2015 1:26 a.m.

It wasn’t a showing of great dominance, consistency or finesse for UCLA men’s volleyball Tuesday night, but the team was able to leave Pauley Pavilion with a four-set victory over Cal State Northridge and another important conference win.

The match did not start well for No. 9 UCLA (10-6, 6-6 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation). In a first set filled with errors and mistakes, the Bruins offered little fight in a 25-16 loss to the No. 14 Matadors (5-11, 3-9).

From that point on, the Bruins turned things around all across the court, sweeping the next three sets (16-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-23).

Key to the UCLA comeback was freshman J.T. Hatch. After starting at libero – a defensive specialist position – for the first set, Hatch moved to outside hitter. His presence was immediately felt, contributing a season-high 17 kills overall and six in the second set alone.

“For the first little bit of the season I had been training as an outside, so it wasn’t too drastic of a change,” Hatch said. “I hadn’t been there for a week or so, but once we got going it was pretty easy (to transition).”

In addition to Hatch’s position change, coach John Speraw completely switched the lineup in the second set. Four starters found themselves standing at the end of the bench, while only Hatch, sophomore middle blocker Mitch Stahl, and sophomore setter Hagen Smith remained in the game.

“They were passing the ball really well and they decided that they weren’t going to let our block beat them,” Speraw said. “They were basically telling us that we had to dig and transition and they weren’t going to let us block. I went with a smaller lineup that was going to let us dig and pass at a little bit higher level and that seemed to work quite well.”

The blocking, while slow to develop with a single kill through two sets, eventually showed up for the Bruins.

Redshirt freshman middle blocker Eric Sprague, one of the substitutions after the first set, contributed a season-high 11 kills and four blocks in the final three sets.

“Coming off the bench, you’re always excited and ready to give 100 percent,” Sprague said. “I feel like we definitely picked it up in the second set and for the rest of the match.”

The Bruins found their rhythm, eventually putting the Matadors away and handing them their sixth-straight loss. UCLA now continues its short two-match homestand Friday night against No. 10 Long Beach State.

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Tanner Walters | Alumnus
Walters joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2014 and contributed until he graduated in 2018. He was the Alumni director for the 2017-2018 academic year, Editor in Chief for the 2016-2017 academic year and an assistant Sports editor for the 2015-2016 academic year. Walter spent time on the football, men's basketball, men's volleyball, men's soccer, men's water polo and rowing beats.
Walters joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2014 and contributed until he graduated in 2018. He was the Alumni director for the 2017-2018 academic year, Editor in Chief for the 2016-2017 academic year and an assistant Sports editor for the 2015-2016 academic year. Walter spent time on the football, men's basketball, men's volleyball, men's soccer, men's water polo and rowing beats.
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