The look of sheer disappointment on Jordan Anderson’s face as she was taken out of set two said it all.
UCLA women’s volleyball had dropped the first set and fell behind 6-8 in the second. The senior outside hitter had already made three hitting errors in that second set alone.
But coach Michael Sealy sent Anderson back in with the Bruins trailing 13-10, and she wasn’t about to disappoint herself or her team again.
After Anderson came back in, she rattled off five kills and a clutch block en route to a 25-23 set-two win.
“I think sometimes she just needs a reset,” Sealy said. “Going back in … not a whole ton of pressure. So the team rallied.”
No. 20 UCLA (13-4, 4-3 Pac-12) followed Anderson’s lead for the rest of the match to upset No. 16 Oregon (12-4, 5-2 Pac-12) in five highly contested sets Wednesday night.
The Bruins leapt to an early 6-1 lead in set one, but the Ducks rallied back to take the first set 28-26.
After winning the second set, UCLA cruised through set three and decisively won 25-20.
In set four, Oregon’s efficient hitting led them to a 25-21 victory, which forced a decisive set five.
The last set was all UCLA. The Bruins led 8-7 at the switch and held the Ducks to two points for the remainder of the match to win 15-9.
Wednesday’s win marks the first time UCLA has come out on top in a five-set match this season after previously losing to Arizona and Washington State.
[Last match: The Bruins collapse in Wildcat showdown]
“We’ve been a little up and down on the long games,” said senior middle blocker Jennie Frager. “I think just closing out that match was huge for our confidence and is going to be really good for us going forward.”
Along with the Bruins’ first five-set victory, freshman opposite Torrey Van Winden had the best game of her collegiate career with 19 kills, 12 digs and three blocks. Van Winden led the team in kills and posted a .341 hitting percentage.
“She’s gotten better and better ever since she got into that starting lineup,” said Sealy. “I think she had just been out for so much of the preseason that it was going to take some time to get in sync, not only for her, but for the setters and how they decide to use her with the balls she hits.”
Van Winden said that a large reason for her success last night was that UCLA’s setters pushed the ball to the pins, allowing her to hit down the line.
“They were definitely giving me a ton of line, and I think that’s based off my previous games of hitting hard-angle,” Van Winden said. “But it was also really nice because there was no libero in the back left so I just felt like I had free range of the line and just really took advantage of it.”
UCLA now looks to Friday’s match against Oregon State, and Sealy said that the team is getting closer to where it wants to be but still has a way to go.
“We’re just trying to really not be too attached to the win, and not so fearful of the loss, just kind of play one play at a time,” said Sealy.