Sunday, February 23

Freshman setter steps in for injured starter, catalyzes wins in Oregon

Sophomore outside hitter Reily Buechler said freshman Zana Muno was pivotal in the Bruins win over the Ducks. Muno had 48 assists in the match. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

All season long, coach Michael Sealy had the luxury of choosing between two capable starting setters. In the first set of this weekend’s road trip, the women’s volleyball coach lost that luxury, as redshirt sophomore setter Ryann Chandler was hit in the face with the ball on defense against Oregon.

In stepped freshman Zana Muno, who began the season in the starting spot but had since been relegated in favor of Chandler. Muno filled the void admirably, posting two straight double-doubles as No. 10 UCLA persevered for wins over No. 25 Oregon and unranked Oregon State.

The Bruins (17-3, 8-2 Pac-12) extended their winning streak to seven and climbed into a tie for second place in the Pac-12, beating the Ducks (10-9, 4-6) in four sets on Friday and the Beavers (4-16, 2-8) in five on Sunday.

Chandler, who has had concussion issues dating back to her high school years in San Diego, only played 13 points before being replaced by Muno.

“I was just really nervous for Ryann. At first I just wanted to make sure she was okay,” Muno said. “Obviously, it was not expected. … My teammates really helped me out and supported me through it. They gave me a lot of confidence.”

Muno went on to post 48 assists and 11 digs against the Ducks, helping her team achieve a 3-1 victory. The Bruins mounted comebacks in games one, three and four, needing 28 and 29 points to close out games three and four respectively.

“Obviously, it’s sad to have a teammate go down regardless of what’s going on,” said sophomore outside hitter Reily Buechler. “But it was good that Zana came in and she played really well and got us that win against Oregon, which was huge for us.”

A day and a half later against the Beavers, Muno recorded a career-high 52 assists and 24 digs.

The match against Oregon State started smoothly for UCLA, which won the first two sets 25-16 and 25-21. But the Beavers took sets three and four, forcing the Bruins to play a fifth set for the first time all year. UCLA responded emphatically, winning the set 15-5 to seal the victory.

“It was really interesting to test the waters on (a game five),” Buechler said. “It was fun to battle in the end and have that energy in a good set and see how well we do in a fifth set. We proved today that we can handle it.”

With the two wins, the Bruins improve to 13-0 in games played outside of Westwood.

“We know that the (NCAA) Tournament won’t be at home, and it’s really exciting for us that we can play anywhere and we can be uncomfortable and still win,” Muno said. “I think that’s really big for us in the future.”

UCLA’s undefeated road record will be in for a test this weekend with a trip to Washington State and Washington. No. 4 Washington beat UCLA in straight sets in Pauley Pavilion earlier this season.

Sports editor

Gottlieb is the Sports editor. He was previously an assistant Sports editor in 2016-2017, and has covered baseball, softball, women's volleyball and golf during his time with the Bruin.

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