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Men’s volleyball dominates Midwest matches with straight-set, record-breaking wins

Junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah hit for .523 last season and recorded 197 kills. So far this season, Gyimah has hit for .482, with a season-high 11 kills against McKendree. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)

Men's volleyball

No. 2 UCLA3
No. 2 UCLA3

By Samuel In

January 13, 2019 5:26 pm

The Bruins returned from their road trip with a broken record.

No. 2 UCLA men’s volleyball (4-1) defeated McKendree (1-1) and Lindenwood (0-2) this weekend on its trip to the Midwest by scores of 3-0 and 3-0, respectively.

Junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah broke the single-game hitting percentage record in the Bruins’ first game of the weekend against McKendree.

Gyimah hit for .917, breaking the previous record of .900 held by Don Dendinger, Tim Kelly, Mark Williams, Steve Klosterman, and Allan Vince. Gyimah said he did not have the record in mind as he played.

“Usually I’m mindful of what my hitting percentage is, but today I didn’t even notice and I was just trying to attack every single ball hard,” Gyimah said.

Coach John Speraw said there were many factors that contributed to Gyimah’s success.

“(Senior setter) Micah (Ma’a) got him in good spots,” Speraw said. “(Gyimah) made some real nice shots. He hit deep a couple times. He’s getting better at running some different routes. That’s impressive with the history of UCLA volleyball. He’s obviously in my mind one of the greatest attackers we’ve ever had.”

Gyimah accumulated 11 kills on his path to breaking the record, but he did not lead the Bruins in kills. Redshirt junior opposite Brandon Rattray led UCLA with 13 kills, but said his and Gyimah’s success was due to the team’s passing.

“What made (Gyimah’s record) possible was great passing tonight,” Rattray said. “When we pass well, it frees us all up. It’s very good for both of us – with how big of a threat he is, it opens me up.”

The Bruins as a whole hit for .636 in the first set and .625 in the third set as UCLA beat McKendree in straight sets.

Rattray tallied 11 more kills in UCLA’s second game of the weekend against Lindenwood to become the Bruins’ leading hitter in back-to-back games. Gyimah sat out the entire second set and did not come back in until the Bruins were up 23-22 in the third set. Speraw said this was due to serving inconsistencies.

“I decided to make a change when we were down, get a little different look, and get a different server,” Speraw said. “(Gyimah) hasn’t been serving very well.”

Redshirt junior middle blocker Matthew Younggren was one of the players who replaced Gyimah. Younggren ended the night with a perfect hitting percentage and six kills. Speraw said he has confidence in all of his middle blockers.

“I think we have some depth at that position. (Younggren) is good. (Sophomore) Grant (Maleski) is good and getting better. Obviously (Gyimah) is great,” Speraw said.

The trio combined to record a total of 12 kills as the Bruins swept their opponent for the second time in as many days. Younggren said everyone on the team is prepared to play on any given day.

“We’re always ready,” Younggren said. “We have a pretty deep roster. Everyone’s ready to go and back each other up.”

UCLA will play No. 10 UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday before finishing the week against reigning champion No. 1 Long Beach State in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday.

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Samuel In | Assistant Video producer
In is an Assistant Video producer. He was previously a contributor on the men's volleyball and women's soccer beats and a video contributor on the Sports beat. He is a third-year communications major.
In is an Assistant Video producer. He was previously a contributor on the men's volleyball and women's soccer beats and a video contributor on the Sports beat. He is a third-year communications major.
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