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Men’s volleyball look to finish regular season strong as MPSF tournament looms

Senior setter Micah Ma’a has posted 104 kills, 57 service aces and 817 assists this season. Ma’a led the Bruins in their recent contest against Grand Canyon with 17 kills – while also hitting for .342. (Daanish Bhatti/Daily Bruin)

By Aleeque Marselian

April 3, 2019 11:29 p.m.

The Bruins have two regular season matches left.

No. 5 UCLA men’s volleyball (17-7, 7-3 MPSF) will face No. 14 Concordia Irvine (14-16, 3-7) and No. 6 USC (15-8, 6-4) on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

“We have to finish out strong,” said redshirt freshman setter Adam Parks. “How we finish is going to be how we start playoffs and how we start MPSF, so we have to come out and give it our all.”

The Bruins defeated the Eagles in straight sets Feb. 20 as UCLA held Concordia to a .101 hitting percentage and forced 16 attacking errors. UCLA hit for .356 and recorded seven aces and eight blocks – compared to Concordia’s four aces and six blocks.

Concordia has won its last two matches against No. 11 Brigham Young (12-10, 6-5) and No. 9 Stanford (14-10, 5-6), respectively. The Eagles averaged 10 aces, 8.8 blocks and a .410 hitting percentage during their two-game winning streak. Concordia is led by outside hitter Jordan Hoppe, who has posted a team-high 305 kills and 33 aces this season.

UCLA coach John Speraw said the Bruins have to continue to strengthen the chemistry within their new lineup to find success toward the end of the regular season.

“The focus isn’t anything about trying to refine anything because we have another lineup that we’re rolling out,” Speraw said. “It’s just about us making sure that we’re connected and being super mindful about our communication.”

UCLA won its matchup against USC in straight sets earlier this season. The Bruins hit for .420 and recorded 4.5 blocks and 12 aces, compared to the Trojans’ seven blocks, one ace and .349 hitting percentage.

USC has won its last four games to rise to the third spot in the conference standings, handing No. 2 Long Beach State (21-1, 6-0 Big West) its first loss of the season in straight sets March 23.

The Trojans averaged four aces, 9.8 blocks, and a .374 hitting percentage during their four-game winning streak. Outside hitter Ryan Moss posted eight kills against the Bruins and has recorded a team-high 287 kills this season.

Senior setter Micah Ma’a – who recorded a team-high 17 kills and six aces in UCLA’s win against Grand Canyon (12-14, 2-8) on March 31 – said UCLA has to find a way to contain USC’s offense.

“Everyone on that team is playing really well,” Ma’a said. “I think we’re going to have to do a lot. We’re going to have to serve tough and pass well and try to figure out how to slow them down.”

UCLA shares the top spot in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings with Pepperdine (18-6, 7-3), which holds the head-to-head advantage in the tiebreaker. The top seed of the conference receives a first-round bye in the MPSF tournament and hosts the semifinal and final rounds.

“I don’t care where we play,” Speraw said. “If we can win the conference and host here, great. If not, we’ll go play whomever, wherever. I just think for us if we can use the time we have remaining to reach peak performance with this group, we can do it and it doesn’t matter where we play.”

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Aleeque Marselian | Alumna
Marselian joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2018 and contributed until 2019. She spent time on the men's volleyball and women's volleyball beats.
Marselian joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2018 and contributed until 2019. She spent time on the men's volleyball and women's volleyball beats.
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