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In season marked by serves, women’s volleyball strives for aces over errors

Senior outside hitter Savvy Simo said in the Bruins’ ongoing project of improving their serve, she and the rest of UCLA women’s volleyball have sometimes had to focus on serving for points, not just aces. (Daanish Bhatti/Daily Bruin)

By David Deng

Nov. 13, 2019 1:49 a.m.

The Bruins’ serves haven’t been staying in the court.

UCLA women’s volleyball (13-10, 8-6 Pac-12) recorded 12 serving errors against then-No. 16 Utah on Saturday, tied for its second-most in a game this season. For a game in which every set was decided by three points, the double-digit errors would have more than made up the combined nine points that the Bruins ultimately lost by.

In its previous game – a home loss against Colorado on Thursday – UCLA managed two aces to eight serving errors.

The Bruins rank toward the middle in the Pac-12 in serving, currently placing sixth in both aces per set and service errors. Junior outside hitter Mac May leads the Pac-12 with 0.34 service aces per set, but is also first on the team in service errors with 56.

“I think (a tough serve) is extremely important,” said redshirt sophomore middle blocker Emily Ryan. “That’s our main point system; that’s where you keep the team on their heels and you start pushing them back on their end lines.”

After the loss to Utah, however, coach Michael Sealy said he was far more frustrated with UCLA’s carelessness on easy serves, rather than its performance on the difficult ones.

“If you’re serving tough and it’s part of the game plan, then it’s fine (to make some errors),” Sealy said. “But our misses were too easy.”

In the Utah game, senior outside hitter Savvy Simo stayed at the service line for the majority of a 6-0 run that temporarily brought the Bruins back from a 10-4 deficit. After the game, Simo said her strategy when serving with a deficit was focused on keeping the ball in play and giving the team a chance to win the point.

“I think it’s important to get it tough (when we’re down), but I don’t like missing because I’d rather give our team the opportunity to earn the point,” said Simo. “So I put a little pop on it, put it in a good spot, serve it to the right person who’s the weaker passer and give our team the opportunity to earn points.”

In its 10 defeats this season, UCLA has posted a service ace to error ratio of 34-to-76, meaning it recorded about 2.24 errors for every ace. In their 13 victories, the Bruins recorded 64 aces to 110 errors for about 1.72 errors per ace.

UCLA will travel to play No. 20 California on Friday and No. 4 Stanford on Sunday. Two weeks ago, the Bruins upset both teams at home, defeating then-No. 2 Stanford 3-0 and then-No. 15 California 3-1.

The Bruins swept the Cardinal despite posting three aces and 10 errors. In their victory against the Golden Bears, however, the Bruins had a ratio of six aces to nine errors.

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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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