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Men’s volleyball falls short in five-set battle with Long Beach State

Freshmen setter/opposite Mads Kyed Jensen led the Bruins in aces, kills and assists in No. 12 UCLA men’s volleyball’s five-set loss to No. 4 Long Beach State. Kyed Jensen is the first Bruin to lead in all three categories this season. (Daanish Bhatti/Daily Bruin)

By Samuel In

March 1, 2020 4:51 p.m.

The Bruins were a few points away from being the first team since 2017 to defeat the two-time reigning national champions twice in one season.

No. 12 UCLA men’s volleyball (8-8, 2-3 MPSF) lost to No. 4 Long Beach State (9-1) in five sets by scores of 25-21, 16-25, 25-17, 23-25 and 15-13.

The Bruins dropped the first set, hitting for .040 while allowing the Beach to hit for .353. Both teams had nine kills in the set, but the Bruins had five more attacking errors with a total of eight for the frame. Long Beach State also had four blocks to UCLA’s two.

Freshman setter/opposite Mads Kyed Jensen started the second set for the Bruins with three straight service aces. UCLA won eight of the 10 second-set points in which Kyed Jensen served. He also accumulated four kills throughout the set before clinching it with another service ace.

Coach John Speraw said Kyed Jensen’s serving made up for inconsistent hitting.

“For us, (Kyed Jensen’s service pressure) was everything because our hitting percentage is a little variable,” Speraw said.

The Beach started the third set with a 3-0 run of its own on two kills and a block from middle blocker Shane Holdaway. Holdaway finished the match with nine kills en route to a team-high .727 hitting percentage.

UCLA was able to tie the set at 13-13 before Long Beach State went on a 10-3 run, eventually winning the set 25-17.

In a back-and-forth fourth set that featured three lead changes, neither team led by more than four points. Despite allowing the Beach to hit for .514 in the set, the Bruins hit for .459 themselves and had two service aces to their opponent’s zero. The Bruins clinched the set on a kill from freshman outside hitter Alex Knight, tying the match at two sets apiece.

With the fifth set tied 3-3, the Beach went on a 5-1 run to lead 8-4 before UCLA won the next two points on a service error by Long Beach State and a service ace by Knight. The teams traded the next four points before a service ace by Kyed Jensen pulled the Bruins within one point at 10-9.

The squads again traded the next four points before a kill from outside hitter Spencer Olivier put the Beach up 13-11. After a UCLA timeout, an attacking error by the Bruins put the Beach at match point.

A service error by Long Beach State and a block from UCLA put the score at 14-13 before redshirt junior outside hitter/setter Sam Kobrine served the ball into the net, ending the comeback.

Kyed Jensen said trailing early in the fifth set put UCLA at a disadvantage.

“In the last set, it’s all about getting a good start,” Kyed Jensen. “That’s just the bread and butter in five-setters.”

Kobrine and Kyed Jensen were often on the court together splitting setting duties. Kyed Jensen led the team with 26 assists, with Kobrine right behind him with 18.

Senior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah said having two different setters allows for flexibility offensively.

“It’s great having (two different setters out there),” Gyimah said. “People get to hit off the setter that sets them better. (Senior outside hitter Austin Matautia) gets to hit off of Kobrine, I get to hit off of (Kyed Jensen).”

UCLA is coming off a 3-0 sweep of CSUN by scores of 25-22, 25-19 and 25-18. The Bruins hit for .421 as a team while holding the Matadors to a .216 hitting percentage. Matautia was second on the team in kills with eight and hit above .250 for the first time since Jan. 30 against then-No. 13 Princeton.

UCLA’s next match will be Tuesday at the Thunderdome in Santa Barbara against No. 3 UC Santa Barbara.

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Samuel In | Assistant Video producer
In is an Assistant Video producer. He was previously a contributor on the men's volleyball and women's soccer beats and a video contributor on the Sports beat. He is a third-year communications major.
In is an Assistant Video producer. He was previously a contributor on the men's volleyball and women's soccer beats and a video contributor on the Sports beat. He is a third-year communications major.
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