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Women’s volleyball gets assist from Bruin fans at home as reflected in record

Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Emily Ryan and UCLA women’s volleyball have collected a 5-7 away record, compared to a 7-3 record at home. Ryan said part of the reason for this difference is the hostile environment the Bruins encounter when they travel to an opponent’s court. (Liz Ketcham/Photo editor)

By Lexi Grimes

Nov. 25, 2019 11:42 p.m.

Playing in Westwood has been good for the Bruins this year.

No. 23 UCLA women’s volleyball (16-11, 11-7 Pac-12) has seen better outcomes playing at home, posting a 7-3 record, compared to a 5-7 mark when it plays on the road.

UCLA hosted two matches at home this weekend, a five-set win against Oregon (8-19, 4-14) on Friday and a sweep of Oregon State (9-20, 3-15) two days later. The Bruins had previously been swept by the Ducks when they played Oct. 18 in Eugene. When UCLA faced off against Oregon State in Corvallis on Oct. 20, the match was forced to go the full five sets before the Bruins were able to pull out the victory.

Junior outside hitter Mac May said the difference in UCLA’s performance between the two weekends was because of the positive atmosphere that was provided by Bruin fans.

“I think this team really just loves to play in front of our own fans,” May said. “It’s just great to have a lot of support and people cheering for us. I do think our team kind of feeds off the energy and just continues to roll with it.”

As much as the positive energy from UCLA fans has helped to encourage the team, redshirt sophomore middle blocker Emily Ryan said negative energy from fans of opposing teams can be difficult for the Bruins to adjust to.

All seven of the Bruins’ away losses have been sweeps, compared to only one of their three home losses coming via the sweep. Ryan said away games can be intimidating because of the opposing school’s energy.

“When it’s away, it’s like a powerhouse,” Ryan said. “You’re literally little people in a big stadium and you see a tiny sea of blue (fans). So I think it does definitely affect us, but we try our best to make sure our energy on the court overpowers the energy around us.”

This discrepancy in UCLA’s success has also manifested through the Bruins’ record at home and on the road versus ranked teams. Of the seven away matches UCLA has played versus top-25 teams, five of those contests have ended with a Bruin loss.

UCLA has seen better success against ranked teams when playing in Westwood, losing only two of its six home matches against ranked teams. Two of the UCLA’s home wins against ranked teams were sweeps, including its Oct. 25 victory against then-No. 2 Stanford (22-4, 16-2).

Coach Michael Sealy said the Bruins’ away schedule this season has been full of matches versus top teams in hostile environments, which played a part in this difference in success.

“It’s a tough conference,” Sealy said. “It’s hard places to play.”

The Bruins have two more away games to play before a possible run in the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament. May said the goal for UCLA is to play at a consistently high level, no matter who or where they are playing.

“Making sure we’re completely ready to go against whatever team comes before us (is important),” May said. “(We are) just continuing to build chemistry, continuing to work hard.”

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Lexi Grimes | Sports contributor
Grimes is currently a Sports contributor on the beach volleyball beat. She was previously a contributor on the women's volleyball beat.
Grimes is currently a Sports contributor on the beach volleyball beat. She was previously a contributor on the women's volleyball beat.
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