For the second time this season, the Bruins swept the Cougars, but lost to the Huskies.
No. 25 UCLA women’s volleyball (13-8, 8-4 Pac-12) dropped its Sunday match versus No. 12 Washington (17-5, 8-4) in three sets to end its four-game conference winning streak. UCLA swept No. 22 Washington State (19-5, 8-4) on Friday night for its third win over a ranked opponent in two weeks.
“Against (Washington State), we played really tough, we kept on our assignments and kept going after them in everything we did,” said junior outside hitter Mac May. “Washington did that to us (Sunday) where they were just relentless and went after us in every aspect of the game.”
UCLA was leading 19-18 in the first set against Washington State, at which point the Cougars scored six of the next nine points to bring up set point. The Bruins fought back, however, recording three straight kills to go up 25-24, eventually winning the set 27-25.
The second set was close early on as well, but a five-point run for UCLA gave the Bruins a 14-8 advantage, which they held until taking the second set 25-17.
Having never trailed by more than two points in the third set, UCLA clinched the sweep on its third chance at match point, winning the set 25-22.
“We were just aggressive, and what helped us on our end (to) take the win was communication,” said redshirt sophomore middle blocker Emily Ryan. “We hit all of our assignments, and we were just filled with energy.”
The Bruins collected 14 more kills than the Cougars and led with two aces to zero. May led both teams with 20 of the Bruins’ 53 kills and also recorded an ace.
But despite outplaying Washington State on offense, UCLA had just three blocks to the Cougars’ 11, something that coach Michael Sealy said could be attributed to UCLA not being a big blocking team, while both of its opponents this weekend ran a system based on winning at the net.
“It’s not our style of play, so it’s like saying a football team has more rushing yards than another but they’re a passing team,” Sealy said. “So the block isn’t something we focus on, it’s not part of what we do.”
Blocking played a part in Sunday’s match against Washington as well, with the Huskies collecting 10 blocks, while the Bruins only had six, including four in the last set.
UCLA lost both of the first two sets 25-14 and was held to a .061 hitting percentage in that span. May, who is third in the conference in kills per set in Pac-12 play with 4.67, was held to just three kills in the first two sets, and collected a season-low six kills on a -.154 hitting percentage.
“They were really disciplined on their block, they put up a very solid, tight block, just big and in front of you,” May said. “When they did that, we started to miss our shots a little more, so we had to challenge the block a little more, and we weren’t very successful at that today.”
The Bruins stayed within five points the entire third set, but ultimately lost the set 25-23, completing the sweep.
UCLA will return home to face Colorado on Thursday and No. 17 Utah on Saturday.