The Bruins conceded their first conference match of the season.
No. 5 UCLA men’s volleyball (16-5, 6-1 MPSF) fell to No. 9 Brigham Young (10-6, 5-3) 3-2 in five sets Thursday night in Provo, Utah. Despite the loss, the Bruins remain atop the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings.
“I think this is a super discouraging loss,” said UCLA coach John Speraw. “They were on their third-string setter. We needed to basically serve in and we served out 31 times and when we serve out 31 times against a team that’s struggling to set the ball it’s just really a bummer.”
The Bruins hit for .295 and .323 in the first and second sets, respectively, to lead the Cougars by 2-0 in the match. However, BYU hit for .400 and led UCLA by as much as six and 10 points in the third and fourth sets, respectively, to force a fifth set.
Junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah recorded a team-high 16 kills, five blocks and hit for .375.
“We just weren’t putting the ball away,” Gyimah said. “They started making plays and we started dropping the ball a bit.”
Six service errors and four attack errors by the Bruins enabled the Cougars to take the match by a 17-15 fifth-set win.
UCLA has not won a match at the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse since 2009.
Senior setter Micah Ma’a, who posted eight kills in the fifth set, said faulty serving played a factor in the Bruins’ loss. Ma’a recorded a total of 15 kills, 44 assists and three aces in the match.
“We didn’t serve that well tonight,” Ma’a said. “I had nine service errors (and) that’s absolutely terrible. My serving needs to get a lot better, my setting needs to get a lot better, and hopefully from that our hitters will be able to start doing a little bit better. So I take the blame for that.”
UCLA recorded three aces, 26 attack errors, nine blocks and hit for .268, compared to BYU’s four aces, 17 attack errors, nine blocks and a .285 hitting percentage.
Speraw said the Bruins played a collectively poor offensive match, despite having four players with double digit kills.
“You had (redshirt sophomore outside hitter) Sam Kobrine hit .000, (redshirt junior opposite) Brandon Rattray hit .290, (sophomore middle blocker) Grant (Maleski) hit .200, Daenan (Gyimah) was .375, and (freshman outside hitter) Ian (Eschenberg) was .208,” Speraw said. “So every single one of those guys was lower than their standard. The only guy that was really any good was Micah (Ma’a).”
UCLA will continue its road trip Saturday night against No. 8 Stanford (13-8, 1-1) at Maples Pavilion.