The Bruins were unable to avenge their 2018 NCAA championship defeat for the second time this season.
No. 4 UCLA men’s volleyball (10-4) fell 3-0 to No. 1 Long Beach State (13-0) on Saturday night in Long Beach, California. The match marked the Bruins’ second straight-set loss of the season to the 49ers.
UCLA recorded 18 service errors and allowed a season-high 12 aces from the opponent. The Bruins also posted two blocks and hit for .260, compared to the 49ers’ six blocks and .404 hitting percentage.
Junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah, who recorded a team-high nine kills, said the Bruins’ unforced errors and lack of offensive aggression led to the loss.
“We didn’t put that much pressure on (Long Beach State) anywhere,” Gyimah said. “We lost the serving-passing game and we were attacking well, but we were just making too many unforced errors.”
UCLA began the match in a 5-1 offense with redshirt junior opposite Brandon Rattray returning to the starting lineup, but switched to a 6-2 offense in the third set. Rattray recorded eight kills and hit for .111 in his second match back from injury, but he said the Bruins lacked offensive rhythm.
“As the match progressed, we kind of just started losing (momentum) slowly, the energy went down, and they just outplayed us,” Rattray said. “We weren’t clicking as well as we usually do just because of not practicing together.”
Coach John Speraw said serving and passing errors, alongside team injuries, were key reasons for the loss.
“We didn’t pass the ball very well and I don’t think we put enough service pressure on them, and they’re a very good serve-pass team. We just didn’t match that,” Speraw said. “We’ve got to get healthy and we’ve got to serve and pass better.”
The match marked UCLA’s second consecutive loss after it fell to No. 6 UC Santa Barbara in five sets Wednesday.
Gyimah, however, said losing matches could be a good learning experience for UCLA.
“It’s always good to lose a couple matches,” Gyimah said. “We’re gonna learn from them and hopefully we just end up back here in May.”
Speraw said the Bruins will continue to work on improving specific weaknesses that have been evident in their last two matches.
“I think any time you play a great team, they kind of highlight areas that you need to improve and the distance that you’re going to need to travel in those improvements,” Speraw said. “Obviously they highlighted where we need to get some work done.”
UCLA will return to MPSF play against Concordia University Irvine on Wednesday.