UCLA women’s volleyball secures NCAA eligibility with Friday’s win over Oregon
UCLA women’s volleyball secured postseason eligibility with its 3-2 win over Oregon on Friday night. The Bruins had a season-high 14 blocks in the victory and redshirt sophomore middle blocker Emily Ryan has a hand in 10 of them. (Sim Beauchamp/Daily Bruin)
By Lexi Grimes
Nov. 23, 2019 12:08 p.m.
The Bruins are officially postseason eligible.
With its win on Friday against Oregon (7-19, 3-14 Pac-12), UCLA women’s volleyball (15-11, 10-7) secured themselves a record over .500 and its eligibility for the NCAA women’s volleyball playoff tournament.
The Bruins got off to a slow start, losing the first set 26-24 to the Ducks. They battled back to win the next two sets 25-17 and 25-18, respectively, before losing the fourth set 25-23. UCLA got off to an early lead in the final set, leading 8-2 before going on a five-point run to win 15-6, clinching the five-set victory and over .500 record.
UCLA outperformed Oregon in almost every aspect of the game Friday. The Bruins had a .297 hitting percentage, compared to the Ducks’ .196, despite recording only one more kill than them. UCLA played a much cleaner game, recording only 15 attack errors compared to Oregon’s 28. The Bruins also excelled in blocking, recording a season-high 14 blocks, nine more than the Ducks. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Emily Ryan, who had a hand in 10 of the blocks Friday night, said blocking was essential for the win.
“(Blocking is) definitely very important, for this team in particular,” Ryan said. “(Oregon is) a big hitting team, so us getting at least a touch on the block saves our defense and it opens up channels.”
Junior outside hitter Mac May said that a positive team mentality helped the Bruins power through all five sets and guarantee themselves a winning season.
“After the first set, we were, like, ‘Let that one go,’” said May. “We were right there, and then after the fourth set we were, like, ‘Okay, let’s just go out there and show them this isn’t a close match.’”
With just three games left for the Bruins before the postseason, coach Michael Sealy said the team can now look ahead to the tournament. After barely missing last year’s tournament with a record of 13-14, Sealy said qualifying was a major stressor for this year’s team.
“We don’t talk about it a lot,” Sealy said. “Everyone knows what the magic number was so it takes the weight off our shoulders, getting us out of survival mode and trying to thrive a little bit.”
With their postseason eligibility secured, Sealy wants to shift focus to having a more consistent performance on the court.
“We still want to keep building momentum and getting better in the next three matches,” said Sealy. “I think consistency is going to be important, when your playing great teams you sometimes don’t get those opportunities to get it back.”
UCLA now has three more matches to improve their ranking in the tournament, starting off with a home game Sunday against Oregon State (9-19, 3-14) before playing their last two games on the road.