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UCLA men’s volleyball record sinks sub-.500 after second loss to UCSB

Senior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah led No. 12 UCLA men’s volleyball with 10 kills, as his team fell to No. 3 UCSB for the second time this season by a final score of 25-23, 18-25, 16-25, 20-25. (Daanish Bhatti/Daily Bruin)

Men's volleyball

No. 12 UCLA1
No. 3 UC Santa Barbara3

By Jake Greenberg-Bell

March 4, 2020 2:14 a.m.

The Bruins won the first set, but it was downhill from there.

No. 12 UCLA men’s volleyball (8-9, 2-3 MPSF) lost in four sets to No. 3 UC Santa Barbara (13-2, 0-0 Big West) by scores of 25-23, 18-25, 16-25 and 20-25 on Tuesday night.

After storming back from an 8-4 deficit early in the first set, the Bruins came away with a first-set win, despite hitting .103 in the frame.

“We didn’t have the greatest start to the match,” said redshirt junior outside hitter/setter Sam Kobrine. “It showed a lot that our team was able to overcome some early struggles and come back and win. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to carry that on to the next set, but it was very promising.”

In the second set, UCSB’s .091 hitting percentage shot up to .333, and the Gauchos never looked back, taking each of the following three sets by at least five points.

In each of sets two through four, UCLA held the lead at least once, but was overpowered by long runs strung together by UCSB. A four-point run in the second, a six-point run in the third and three-point runs in the fourth were good enough to hand the Gauchos their second win over the Bruins this season.

“I think a lot of those runs, some of them are caused by them – you know, either a good server that we can just try (to) slow down – but I think tonight, in a couple of those runs, it was the case that we just weren’t executing,” said assistant coach Spencer McLachlin. “A lot of times, if you take care of that first ball and don’t let the server get in a rhythm, it makes your life a lot easier, and we didn’t do that.”

Last time the Bruins faced the Gauchos this season Feb. 19, UCLA was swept and hit for its lowest hitting percentage of the season. Now, facing the Gauchos on the road, the Bruins pushed the match to four sets, but still hit for .057, their new lowest mark on the season.

“(UCSB’s) defense, their digging especially, their back row defense, is really some of the best in the country,” McLachlin said. “I think their tallest guy is probably 6-foot-7; … sometimes it’s harder to see the smaller blockers, you don’t know where they are and all of a sudden they’re right in your way.”

Over the course of the match, the Gauchos recorded seven more blocks and eight more digs than the Bruins could muster.

Senior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah – who led the team with 10 kills – said the Bruins’ passing was also a large reason for the loss.

“A big part of it is passing. We just weren’t passing well at all tonight,” Gyimah said. “We kind of passed just decent the whole night, and then it got kind of worse as the match went on.”

While the Bruins have lost three of their past four matches, they’ve also managed to win at least one set in each of the contests. It’s the first time this season the Bruins have won a set in four straight matches.

UCLA returns home to Westwood on Thursday when it will take on CSUN in Pauley Pavilion at 7 p.m.

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Jake Greenberg-Bell | Sports contributor
Greenberg-Bell is currently a Sports contributor on the men's volleyball beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's soccer beat.
Greenberg-Bell is currently a Sports contributor on the men's volleyball beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's soccer beat.
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