UCLA women’s volleyball to play Oregon, Oregon state in home finale
Senior outside hitter Savvy Simo and UCLA women’s volleyball will face off against Oregon and Oregon State in the Bruins’ final home games of the season. (Daily Bruin file photo)
By David Deng
Nov. 21, 2019 8:11 p.m.
The Bruins are playing in their home finale this weekend.
UCLA women’s volleyball (14-11, 9-7 Pac-12) will play Oregon (7-18, 3-13) on Friday and Oregon State (9-18, 3-13) on Sunday, their last two home games of the season.
To cap off the Bruins’ slate of home games, Sunday’s game against Oregon State will be UCLA’s Senior Night, where the team will be honoring seniors outside hitter Savvy Simo and setter Cali Thompson.
Thompson, who transferred to UCLA from Portland before the start of this season, said an increased focus on team camaraderie was one of the most special aspects of playing for the Bruins.
“The connection on the team (has been the best part of UCLA),” Thompson said. “There isn’t any drama, we’re all here together, all one team, all one focus.”
During the senior weekend, Thompson and the rest of UCLA will be facing Oregon on Friday and Oregon State on Sunday. The Bruins lost to the Ducks in the last matchup but beat Oregon State.
The Beavers and Ducks are the two worst teams in the conference, ranking 11th and 12th in the Pac-12, respectively. Despite that, Oregon swept UCLA in Eugene on Oct. 18, and UCLA just edged out Oregon State in five sets two days later.
Coach Michael Sealy downplayed UCLA’s advantage in the rankings, warning against overlooking the upcoming matches.
“Regardless of where they are in the Pac-12, they’re both really talented teams,” Sealy said. “We can’t worry about where they are in the standings because we know they’re both really good.”
In both games, the Bruins posted more errors than the other team. Against Oregon, UCLA lost by a combined four points in the first two sets, so the six extra attack errors the Bruins recorded throughout the match would have more than made up that difference.
The Bruins also posted a team hitting percentage of .186, their third-worst performance against a Pac-12 opponent this year.
Then, the Bruins had their worst day of the season service errors-wise when they played in Corvallis, committing 19 service errors and scoring almost 1/6th of the Beavers’ points for them.
However, UCLA eventually escaped in the fifth set with a 16-14 victory, avoiding what would’ve been the Beavers’ first victory against the Bruins since 2007.
Simo was disappointed over the team requiring five sets to put away Oregon State.
“If we’re up 2-0, we can’t get complacent,” Simo said. “About serving errors, 19 errors is ridiculous. That needs to improve.”
This time around, Sealy stated getting high-quality touches off opponents’ first hits of a rally would be vital for the Bruins to overcome their issues with errors and come out with two wins this weekend.
“Sometimes we’ll get balls sent to us that we can control and we don’t, and it kind of goes in a downward cycle,” Sealy said. “If we can take care of the first touch on our side then our game gets pretty clean.”
Along with the sentimental aspects of the senior weekend, this weekend’s games will have playoff implications for the Bruins, since the team needs to secure a record above .500 to become postseason eligible.
Last year, the Bruins finished with a 13-14 record, missing the postseason eligibility benchmark by one game.
“We have to win one more game to be eligible for the tournament,” said Simo. “But if we can get two (wins) this weekend and one or two (wins) next weekend, that would be huge for us. This is very important.”
Friday’s match against Oregon will start at 6 p.m, and Sunday’s match against Oregon State will be at 1 p.m.