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UCLA men’s volleyball struggles offensively in 3-1 loss to UCSB

Redshirt junior middle blocker Trent Kersten and the Bruins struggled offensively against UCSB, accruing a .134 hitting percentage. (Hannah Ye/Daily Bruin)

Men's volleyball


No. 9 UC Santa Barbara3
No. 10 UCLA1

By Tanner Walters

March 17, 2015 3:00 a.m.

Revenge was once again just out of reach for the men’s volleyball team.

A week after failing to avenge an early-season loss to Long Beach State, No. 12 UCLA had another opportunity against No. 8 UC Santa Barbara on Friday night. The Gauchos, however, had other plans, comfortably handling the Bruins in four sets (25-14, 22-25, 25-16, 25-20) to complete the season series sweep.

UCSB (13-7, 9-7 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) set the tone from the very start with a dominant 25-14 first-set victory. The loss sent UCLA (10-8, 6-8) on a search for answers, but, while the Bruins put up a fight, the rest of the match saw little improvement.

“We just did not play to our potential,” said redshirt freshman middle blocker Eric Sprague. “We didn’t execute in areas where we usually do, so we didn’t have anything that we could fall back on.”

UCLA failed to play a strong game on either side of the net. The Bruins have become known as a blocking team, but they were out-blocked for only the second time in 11 matches. Nothing went better offensively as the team amassed a .134 hitting percentage with 33 errors.

“I still think our ball control is preventing us from utilizing some of our strengths. We’re a big team and we can block the ball, but we continue to struggle passing and setting,” said coach John Speraw. “The most important factor of winning or losing volleyball matches is offensive production. Right now we’re significantly below where we need to be, and tonight was an exact representation of that.”

Redshirt junior middle blocker Trent Kersten echoed the need for improved offensive play.

“We all need to do a better job; it’s not any one person, it’s a collective effort,” Kersten said. “There have been bits and pieces sometimes, but we need to have a really good offensive game and then I think people will realize that we can make that more consistent.”

Freshman opposite Christian Hessenauer and freshman outside hitter J.T. Hatch once again led the team in hitting with 17 and 13 kills, respectively. Although pacing the Bruin offense, both players had below a .275 hitting percentage.

“There wasn’t a single player on our team who hit for what should be the standard offensive production on any given night,” Speraw said. “We’re just not as good as we need to be.”

Friday night’s loss puts the Bruins in a precarious spot in the conference standings with eight games left in the season. Stanford (9-11, 6-8) has won four straight matches and is now tied with UCLA for eighth place in the MPSF.

The Bruins, however, are keeping their focus on what’s directly ahead of them, Kersten said.

“First things first, we’re always trying to look toward the next thing and the next thing is finals. We just need to really focus on that and do well academically,” Kersten said. “After that we have to buy into how our coaches are training and just believe in them and believe in each other. I think it’ll all work out if we do that.”

After finals the team will try to keep improving as it spends spring break talking about hitting fundamentals, Speraw said. UCLA will face two teams it has defeated this season in California Baptist University (6-14, 2-12) and No. 7 USC (11-6, 9-5) in a pair of road matches before school starts.

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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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