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Women’s volleyball strives to bounce back in games against Colorado, Utah

No. 23 UCLA women’s volleyball senior setter Cali Thompson collected a double-double the last time the Bruins faced the Colorado Buffaloes, with 24 assists and 11 digs. (Daanish Bhatti/Daily Bruin)

Women's Volleyball


Colorado
Thursday, 7 p.m.

Pauley Pavilion
UCLA live stream
No. 16 Utah
Saturday, 5 p.m.

John Wooden Center
UCLA live stream

By Coral Smith

Nov. 7, 2019 1:04 a.m.

The Bruins will have a chance to get back into the win column.

No. 23 UCLA women’s volleyball (13-8, 8-4 Pac-12) will face Colorado (10-12, 2-10) on Thursday night and No. 16 Utah (16-7, 8-4) on Saturday evening. After playing the two teams earlier this season on the road, the Bruins will host the Buffaloes and Utes at home for this weekend’s matches.

After losing to then-No. 12 Washington for the second time this season Sunday, senior setter Cali Thompson said this weekend’s matchups, especially versus the ranked Utes, will be a good test for the Bruins as they near postseason play.

“These games are very important, especially because we just came off of the loss at Washington, it’s a big learning curve that we have to come off for that one,” Thompson said. “Now we know exactly what we need to work on, and so I think this is going to be a good test to see how well we’ve been working on it against (Colorado and Utah).”

The last time UCLA and Colorado faced off, the Bruins swept the Buffaloes, holding them to a .121 hitting percentage. In addition, UCLA had six aces while Colorado only served up one.

The Buffaloes’ loss to the Bruins came in the middle of a 10-game skid in which Colorado lost its first 10 games in Pac-12 play.

But Colorado won both of its matches last weekend versus Arizona and Arizona State for its first two conference wins, meaning they’re coming into Thursday’s match with more momentum, said coach Michael Sealy.

“They’re a team that didn’t have a lot of wins, so they were still grinding,” Sealy said. “And they just got a couple of wins, so their confidence will be pretty high now.”

Utah came into its first game against UCLA with a 3-1 conference record, and proceeded to sweep the Bruins behind double-digit kill performances from three Utes players, while only junior outside hitter Mac May recorded more than 10 in the match.

Sealy said Utah poses a challenge to the relatively young Bruin roster because of the Utes’ strong upperclassmen, who give Utah the experience necessary to play well consistently.

“Utah’s more polished, because they’re older,” Sealy said. “They’ve got quality older players who know the game so their nuances are really good.”

Last weekend, UCLA struggled against both Washington State’s and Washington’s block defenses, allowing 21 blocks between the two matches

The Bruins also surrendered 10 blocks in their first matchup against the Utes. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Sabrina Smith said being able to contest Utah at the net will be the key to a UCLA victory, something she and the team have been working on in recent weeks.

“We just need to be smart about hitting, but not be afraid of the block,” Smith said. “In our Washington game, we were being told to attack the block, and we kind of started doing that, but I think it’s something we can still get better at, just not being afraid to be blocked, because there’s players covering you who have your back.”

Thursday’s match against the Buffaloes will begin at 7 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion, and Saturday’s contest will be at 5 p.m. in the John Wooden Center.

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Coral Smith | Sports senior staff
Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the gymnastics and softball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the softball, gymnastics, women's volleyball, swim & dive and rowing beats. Smith was previously a staff writer on the softball, women's volleyball, rowing and swim & dive beats.
Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the gymnastics and softball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the softball, gymnastics, women's volleyball, swim & dive and rowing beats. Smith was previously a staff writer on the softball, women's volleyball, rowing and swim & dive beats.
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