The Bruins finished their trip to the Midwest with two wins, both against top-10 opponents.
No. 5 UCLA men’s volleyball (8-2) defeated No. 10 Lewis 3-1 at the Neil Carey Arena in Romeoville, Illinois, on Saturday after besting No. 7 Loyola Chicago (7-3) on Thursday.
UCLA fell in the first set 25-18 as Lewis hit for .520 and logged only three errors, while the Bruins hit for .222. Junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah said the Bruins’ confidence has improved, as well as their ability to respond when behind.
“In both of these games actually, we were down, so (we used) the confidence we have in ourselves to still push through and win when we’re down,” Gyimah said. “It was great for us mentally. We’re just more confident.”
UCLA hit for .536 and recorded 17 kills in the second set en route to a 25-20 win. Three Bruins – senior outside hitter Dylan Missry, Gyimah and redshirt freshman setter Adam Parks – finished the match with 10 or more kills, recording 18, 12 and 10, respectively.
Missry said the Bruins played well all-around, especially after falling in the first set.
“We just scrapped, we played some good defense, we hit our serves, and I think we did a good job of scouting Lewis and we got on their tendency and started scoring some real points,” Missry said.
Redshirt junior opposite Brandon Rattray leads the Bruins in kills with 113 but missed the matchup due to a toe injury. Coach John Speraw said UCLA was forced to adapt to past tactics to fill in for Rattray’s absence.
“Rattray was hurt tonight, so it forced us to look at a couple different options and we went back to the 6-2 that we ran a couple years ago with Adam Parks and we only had one practice with it, so (I’m) very pleased with how that all worked out,” Speraw said. “It was good to see that we have versatility.”
Parks also logged 22 assists for the Bruins, second behind senior setter Micah Ma’a, who recorded 29. Parks had played four matches before the Lewis matchup with no kills or assists.
UCLA hit for .242 and .353 in the third and fourth sets, respectively. The Bruins hit a game-high 18 kills in the final set of the match, winning 25-20, while holding the Flyers to seven kills. The Bruins held the Flyers to .156 and .042 in the same sets, respectively, and logged three services aces and 10 blocks themselves.
Speraw said the win wasn’t just due to strong serving or defense, but executing on offensive chances.
“I thought we served tough, but mostly I think the best thing was that we just played some good defense and transition volleyball, which hasn’t yet this season been a great strength of ours,” Speraw said. “I also thought that considering (Parks) hasn’t had much of an opportunity to set (for) a lot of these players, like Gyimah, I thought he did a great job.”
UCLA will return home next week to face No. 8 Stanford and No. 3 Brigham Young in its first two matches of Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference play.