The Bruins haven’t had to rely on just one player this season.
No. 18 UCLA women’s volleyball (15-8, 8-6 Pac-12) showed its variety of offensive talent during the weekend against Arizona and Arizona State.
Freshman opposite Mac May, sophomore middle blocker Madeleine Gates and junior middle blocker Kyra Rogers all hit over .400 during the weekend, with May recording a season-high percentage of .636 against the Wildcats.
“I didn’t know I hit that well, but it’s super exciting to know you did well in a match,” May said.
The Bruins came into the weekend having hit under .200 in their past four matches. UCLA has struggled against big blocking teams this season and has often defaulted to its outside hitters rather than playing with a more versatile offense.
Coach Michael Sealy said the team had looked to improve this in practice.
“Everyone was focused really well,” Sealy said. “We worked on some specific things and you could tell that we were cleaner on offense.”
The Bruins’ offense has primarily been led by the outside hitters, senior Reily Buechler and freshman Jenny Mosser, who led the team in kills this year with 282 and 237, respectively.
Mosser posted a total of 13 kills and Buechler totaled 28 kills in the last two matches.
While the outsides were strong, Buechler said the offensive dominance is mostly because of the middles, who continue to be effective even in games when the pin hitters struggle. Gates hit .500 against Washington when no one else on the team hit above .235.
In the last two matches, Gates tallied a total of 24 kills in slide attacks and at the middle, and Rogers posted 11 kills.
This diversity of the offense has been key for the Bruins in outhitting their opponents, Gates said.
“(Our plan was) spreading the offense out and making sure everyone is getting up as much as they can so the defense has a hard time figuring out which side to go,” Gates said.
UCLA has had a relatively consistent lineup this season, with the exception of some starters missing a game or two because of injuries and illnesses. The five starting hitters have all recorded over 150 kills on the year and four different players have led the Bruins in kills in the last seven matches.
Buechler said this versatility on the roster shows the strength of the team.
“It’s cool to see everyone get their chance to shine,” Buechler said. “Everyone got their moment and played super well.”
With only six regular season matches remaining, three against teams the Bruins have lost to, UCLA will look to build off its offensive momentum, Sealy said.
“Everyone’s on the same page,” Sealy said. “If we (want to) be an elite team, we can’t have any hiccups.”