UCLA women’s volleyball started every set in its loss to Washington by losing five of the first six points.
At this point, all coach Michael Sealy can do is joke about it.
“I’m going to start talking to opposing coaches and just see if we can start it down 5-1,” the coach said. “Cut through the formality of getting to that point. Makes it quicker on the fans … but yeah, we’re a very slow-starting team.”
The No. 13 Bruins (8-4, 1-2 Pac-12) were constantly in comeback mode against the No. 6 Huskies (13-1, 3-0), failing to come up with an upset of a top-10 team like they did last week.
Washington’s ability to continually start strong came as no surprise to senior outside hitter Reily Buechler, who led UCLA with 14 kills.
“Teams just love coming out firing against us; we always know they’re going to,” Buechler said. “Everyone loves playing UCLA. It’s a huge deal to play UCLA and everyone wants to beat us, so they always come out firing in every single game, and we’re not all there yet.”
The Bruins put on their best performance in set one, coming back to claim the set 25-18 and holding the Huskies to a .108 hitting percentage. The UCLA offense worked on tipping during the week because Washington has a reputation for being such a strong blocking team, said junior middle blocker Kyra Rogers.
Then the Huskies made the adjustments they needed to make to win sets two through four.
“I think they probably passed a little better,” Sealy said. “I think they got cleaner with their touch in long rallies. I thought they picked up the tip a little bit better.”
The UCLA offense’s numbers steadily declined as a result. The Bruins hit .294 in set one, but just .164 in the game’s final three sets, including a .000 hitting percentage in set four.
“Honestly, (the Huskies) are an amazing team, but we just made so many errors and were kind of just shooting ourselves in the foot,” Rogers said. “We talked about that after and we just have to limit our errors.”
The scariest moment of the game took place in set three, when a ball struck Rogers in the head as she went up for a block. Although she appeared shaken up on the play, she stayed in the game.
Sealy said Rogers was fine and was not evaluated, and Rogers said she was ready to play Washington State.
The Bruins will play the unranked Cougars at 1 p.m. Sunday in Pauley Pavilion.
“Whenever we do well in the first five points, we end up doing really well for the entire set,” Buechler said. “So if we can start making less errors in the first three plays of the game, we’re going to do a lot better.”