The Bruins no longer hold sole possession of first place in conference standings.
No. 5 UCLA men’s volleyball (16-7, 6-3 MPSF) fell to No. 4 Pepperdine (17-6, 6-3 MPSF) 3-1 on Wednesday night at the Firestone Fieldhouse. The Waves hold the head-to-head advantage in the three-way tiebreaker between UCLA, Pepperdine and BYU atop the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings.
“Each guy kind of had their own thing going on,” said coach John Speraw. “I think the guys tried hard in different phases, they competed well. We just rolled out another lineup this year and we didn’t connect real well at certain places.”
The Bruins totaled four aces and six blocks and hit for .316 compared to the Waves’ seven aces, 10 blocks, and Bruin-opponent-high .485 hitting percentage. UCLA also posted 18 attacking errors compared Pepperdine’s nine.
Junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah recorded eight kills, three blocks and one ace across the match. Gyimah said the Bruins’ loss was because of a poor overall performance.
“Just a bit of everything,” Gyimah said. We weren’t passing that well, our hitting was decent, but our lack of defense was definitely terrible.”
After tying the match at one set apiece, UCLA trailed in the third and fourth sets by as many as nine points. The Bruins hit for .103 and .286 in the third and fourth sets, respectively.
The Bruins have not won a match since junior outside hitter Austin Matautia suffered a season-ending leg injury.
“Honestly, probably the biggest reason is losing Austin Matautia,” Speraw said. “We got down to this threshold where we’ve been holding on without (senior outside hitter) Dylan Missry and getting a bunch of good wins. Then we lost (Matautia) and we just got over the threshold of being able to put enough guys on the floor with enough experience and skill to continue to win.”
After its losses to No. 10 Brigham Young (12-8, 6-3) and No. 6 Stanford (14-8, 2-1), UCLA has lost its last three road games and holds a 7-6 record on the road.
Senior setter Micah Ma’a – who posted a team-high 13 kills, two aces and a .286 hitting percentage – said the Bruins have to learn to perform better on the road.
“I think we’re a better team at home,” Ma’a said. “We need to figure out how to win on the road because we’re going to be playing a lot on the road if we keeping playing well.”
The Bruins will return home to face unranked Grand Canyon (12-12, 2-6) on Sunday at Pauley Pavilion.