Thursday, April 9

Men’s volleyball aims to justify ranking with win against UCSB at home

Senior setter Micah Ma'a has posted 168 assists in five games started this season, including a season-high 45 against McKendree. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)

The Bruins have a chance to clinch their first win against a ranked opponent this season.

No. 6 UCLA men’s volleyball (4-1) will face No. 12 UC Santa Barbara (3-2) at Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday night. The Bruins dropped four spots in the rankings after being ranked No. 2 through their first five games of the season.

“My only thought on the rankings this year is that we’ve been ranked probably too high considering our turnover,” said coach John Speraw.

After returning from their Midwest road trip with two wins – sweeping both McKendree (1-1) and Lindenwood (0-2) – senior setter Micah Ma’a said UCLA hoped to find its rhythm and continue its win streak.

“We struggled a little bit, even the whole road trip, despite what the sets say,” Ma’a said. “We’ve got a lot to get better at, so I think we’re just trying to do as much as we can do.”

UCLA is undefeated at home this season – with wins against Princeton (1-5) and UC San Diego (2-2) – and averaged a .373 overall hitting percentage. The team hitting percentage dropped to .344 in its following three games on the road.

The Bruins have also averaged 14 errors per game, with a season-high 17 against the No. 10 CSUN Matadors (4-1) in their only loss of the season.

“We’re not that good right now,” said junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah. “The team as a whole has to get better at serving and the little things, like passing free balls perfectly.”

UCLA beat UCSB in straight sets at home in March and held it to a .099 hitting percentage. The Bruins recorded 10 blocks, seven errors and a .446 hitting percentage in the match compared to the Gauchos’ three blocks and 21 errors.

After winning their first three games, the Gauchos lost their last two, both against the Pepperdine Waves (4-0). Outside hitter Corey Chavers has led UCSB this season with 60 kills and nine blocks, averaging 12 kills per match.

Despite some recent struggles, the Bruins remain optimistic about the potential and future of the team.

“Where we are right now and where we could potentially be a few months from now are potentially very, very different teams,” Speraw said. “For us it’s just about time and getting to be better volleyball players and a better volleyball team.”

Sports contributor

Marselian is currently a contributor on the women's volleyball beat. She was previously a contributor on the men's volleyball beat.

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