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Women’s volleyball strikes down Oregon State during Senior Day game

UCLA women’s volleyball finished out its home schedule with a win over Oregon State in three sets Sunday. It was the final game for two of the Bruins’ seniors, including setter Cali Thompson, who recorded 22 assists, eight digs and a service ace in the victory. (Alex Driscoll/Daily Bruin)

Women's Volleyball

Oregon State0

By David Deng

Nov. 24, 2019 11:11 p.m.

On this year’s Senior Day, the Bruins emerged victorious.

UCLA women’s volleyball (16-11, 11-7 Pac-12) defeated Oregon State (9-20, 3-15) for the 22nd consecutive time Sunday afternoon, winning the match in a 3-0 sweep.

Last year on Senior Day, UCLA hosted USC in a game that determined its playoff fate. The Bruins fell in a five-set match, finishing the season with a losing record that disqualified them from postseason consideration.

This year’s Senior Day matchup lacked the stakes and the losing result of last year’s.

UCLA already clinched a winning record after its Friday victory over Oregon, securing its postseason eligibility. After winning a 25-23 first set over the Beavers that involved 11 tied scores and three lead changes, the Bruins won the next two sets by a combined 21 points without falling behind once.

The Bruins posted a .363 hitting percentage – their best mark of the season. Outside hitters junior Mac May and senior Savvy Simo led the team with 20 and 14 kills, respectively.

In the opening frame, Simo recorded eight kills in 11 attacks, including two consecutive kills at 23-23 to win the set for the Bruins.

“(Simo) was awesome,” said coach Michael Sealy. “I know it was really heavy on her, that last senior game at home, but she took good swings, she had good ball control, it was a very well-rounded game.”

In the next two sets, May became the Bruins’ primary hitter, recording 16 kills, including a cheer-eliciting kill in the second set that bounced off an Oregon State blocker and landed halfway up the bleachers.

“This game we connected a lot better with our setters, worked hard on our shots and our selections, and everything just kind of came together,” May said. “We were able to do really well tonight.”

Prior to the game, Sealy said better touch quality was something to improve on for this weekend’s games.

The Bruins had 51 digs versus one reception error Sunday, and Sealy said he was pleased with his team’s performance controlling the pass.

“There were times that Oregon State didn’t have clean ball control so they were struggling a little bit,” Sealy said. “But when they sent balls over we did a great job taking care of the first touch and we were able to run offense back at them.”

It took the Bruins five sets to put away the Beavers in their first matchup earlier this season. In Sunday’s game, however, Sealy said the difference was how the team approached taking an early lead.

“It was the same thing (as the last game against Oregon State). We were up 2-0 pretty easily, but we came out in the third set unfocused,” Sealy said. “Anytime you’re up 2-0 on a team and they’re not playing great, it almost lulls you to sleep. It was a big deal that we stayed focused (today) and didn’t give them an opportunity to come back.”

The pregame Senior Day celebration honored graduating seniors Simo and setter Cali Thompson. Simo’s 14 kills – including the match-ending kill in the third set – went along with 14 digs. Thompson led the team in assists with 22 and had eight digs and a service ace.

Thompson said pulling out the victory on Senior Day was extra sweet.

“I didn’t know my family was coming, and so many of them came,” Thompson said. “To come together and knock out the win from the beginning, that was awesome.”

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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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