The Bruins ended their home stint with a win to remain undefeated in conference play.
No. 4 UCLA men’s volleyball (10-2, 2-0 Pac-12) defeated No. 7 Brigham Young (4-4, 0-2) 3-1 Saturday at the John Wooden Center.
“We’re rolling out different offenses here, and that’s hard,” said coach John Speraw. “For us to get two wins this week with all that we’ve been dealing with is a super great week of volleyball for us.”
The Bruins dropped the opening set for the fourth time in five matches, being aced four times by the Cougars and hitting for .000 en route to a 25-16 loss. The Bruins have two losses on the season overall, but have been outscored 280-277 in the first set and own a 6-6 record in the first set.
Junior outside hitter Austin Matautia said the Bruins were not in the right mindset to start the match.
“We had to come in pumped up,” Matautia said. “We didn’t really have much energy, and we didn’t really communicate very well in the first set.”
Despite the first-set loss, Speraw said the Bruins were able to bounce back in the second set due to an increase in the quality of their serves.
“I think we served the ball better and made some defensive plays,” Speraw said. “BYU had a really nice first set. We just didn’t hit very well and made some pretty obvious mistakes. We’ve got to become a little bit better of a first-set team.”
Matautia said a better execution of the defensive game plan in the final three sets helped minimize the impact of Gabi Garcia Fernandez – BYU’s season-leader in kills.
Fernandez hit for .400 and tallied two service aces in the first set, but was limited by the Bruins to a .038 hitting percentage and one service ace for the remainder of the match.
“Every opportunity we could triple block (Fernandez), we tried to put up a triple block,” Matautia said. “We read his hitting tendencies well. Our coaches told the back defenders where to go and line up, so that way we could get some digs on him.”
The Bruins were without redshirt junior opposite Brandon Rattray and senior outside hitter Dylan Missry from the starting lineup for the second straight match. Rattray and Missry had led UCLA in kills in nine of its 10 matches before getting injured.
Matautia had a season-high 13 kills to lead the Bruins in the category for the first time this season. Matautia also contributed defensively, tallying four digs and two blocking assists.
The return of redshirt freshman setter Adam Parks from a head injury allowed UCLA to run its two-setter system it featured against No. 10 Lewis. Parks contributed seven kills, 15 assists and nine digs for the Bruins.
“He just gives us one more piece in the puzzle that we’re trying to put together here,” Speraw said. “It’s a new puzzle every night, but every little bit helps.”
The Bruins won the final three sets by scores of 25-14, 25-19, and 25-18, with the Cougars posting their own hitting percentages of .000 in the second and fourth sets.
Senior setter Micah Ma’a said Saturday’s win without two of UCLA’s starters was important for the team moving forward.
“This win was extremely big,” Ma’a said. “It shows a lot about our depth and our flexibility and our resolve. Rattray’s leading us in kills per set. (Missry’s) a senior, he’s steady out there, he passes really well and he also hits for a high hitting percentage. So we’re just glad that we can win without them and can’t wait for them to come back.”
The Bruins will face No. 6 UC Santa Barbara for the second time this season on Wednesday in Santa Barbara.