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UCLA women’s volleyball fails to secure victory against Utah in 3-1 loss

Senior outside hitter Savvy Simo recorded 15 kills, seven digs and an ace in No. 23 UCLA women’s volleyball’s four-set loss to No. 16 Utah on Saturday. (Daanish Bhatti/Daily Bruin)

Women's Volleyball

No. 16 Utah3
No. 23 UCLA1

By David Deng

Nov. 10, 2019 5:04 p.m.

This post was updated Nov. 11 at 9:51 p.m.

Each of the four sets between the Bruins and Utes finished with the score 25-22.

No. 23 UCLA women’s volleyball (13-10, 8-6 Pac-12) came out on the losing end of Saturday night’s matchup, falling to No. 16 Utah (18-7, 10-4) at home. The Bruins won the first set but dropped the remaining three, all by the fateful score of 25-22.

Junior outside hitter Mac May and senior outside hitter Savvy Simo led the team with 17 and 15 kills, respectively, and the Bruins’ 58 kills just about matched Utah’s 60 kills. However, UCLA recorded 12 serving errors to Utah’s seven, and was outblocked for the fourth game in a row en route to a third consecutive defeat.

In a game characterized by a series of runs, Utah capitalized on timely momentum. In the decisive fourth set that contained 13 tie scores and eight lead changes, UCLA rallied from a 9-2 deficit to take a 22-21 lead, with May recording seven kills and an ace in that span.

But the Bruins were unable to finish the deal, as the Utes finished the game on a 4-0 run, benefiting from two attack errors from UCLA.

“Both teams executed really well,” said redshirt sophomore middle blocker Emily Ryan. “I wish that we executed to the finish since we were very close in those last two sets.”

It was UCLA that set the tone for closing out the win in the opening set. After watching a 12-7 lead dissolve into a 20-20 tie, the Bruins ended on a 5-2 run, capped off by a Simo kill that marked UCLA’s first set victory since Nov. 1.

However, Utah got the better end out of a 21-21 tie late in the second set, despite being outhit by the Bruins .310 to .269. In the third set, Utah took a 10-9 lead and never relinquished it, reaching set point at 24-18. A 4-0 run kept the Bruins’ chances alive, but the Utes quashed their chances with a set-ending kill.

“We fought, which was very important to us,” Simo said. “There was a bunch of momentum shifts; that’s just how it is. But unfortunately, they had the momentum late in sets.”

Coach Michael Sealy said in close sets such as these versus Utah, pulling out the victory boils down to executing plays in crucial moments.

“Heart gets you in the game,” Sealy said. “I thought they showed us courage and heart and that kept us in the game, but we just have to execute. There’s too many plays that happened after 20 when we had the opportunity to take care of the ball and we just didn’t.”

UCLA will hit the road next week for a rematch against familiar Pac-12 rivals, facing No. 20 California on Friday and No. 5 Stanford on Sunday. The Bruins won their matches against both teams at home two weeks ago.

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David Deng | Sports contributor
Deng is currently a Sports contributor on the track & field beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's volleyball beat.
Deng is currently a Sports contributor on the track & field beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's volleyball beat.
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