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Men’s volleyball upsets San Diego, avenging earlier season loss

Redshirt freshman middle blocker Daniel Matheney finished No. 12 UCLA men’s volleyball’s match over No. 6 UCSD with seven kills and four blocks in a 3-1 upset victory.(Sofia Gonzalez/Daily Bruin)

Men's volleyball

No. 6 UCSD1
No. 12 UCLA3

By Jake Greenberg-Bell

March 8, 2020 4:27 p.m.

After getting swept by the Tritons earlier in the season, the Bruins got revenge.

No. 12 UCLA men’s volleyball (10-9, 2-3 MPSF) upset No. 6 UC San Diego (13-5, 2-1 Big West) on Saturday evening in four sets by scores of 25-16, 23-25, 25-19 and 25-21.

The last time the two teams faced off Jan. 17 in La Jolla, California, UCLA was swept and handed its first loss of the season after starting 3-0. With this match being played in Westwood, the Bruins captured their first win against a top-10 team since Feb.1.

“It’s huge, it’s absolutely huge,” said redshirt freshman middle blocker Daniel Matheney. “It feels really nice that we got that win. San Diego is a really good team, and they had us the first time. The second time we came in with a better attitude. … It just feels really good.”

Riding serves by freshman setter/opposite Mads Kyed Jensen, the Bruins raced out to a 3-0 lead that they never relinquished over the course of the first set. The team’s .692 hitting percentage was its highest single-set percentage of the season.

The Bruins also recorded 12 blocks at the net, enough to tie for their second-highest mark this season.

After a second set that featured 10 ties before eventually swaying in favor of the Tritons, the Bruins used two crucial blocks to win the third set – the first of which forced set point and the second of which clinched the set win.

Coach John Speraw said Matheney’s contributions at the net were important to the team’s victory.

“Matheney coming in and stuffing a lot of balls was very impactful. We ended up having a really nice night at the net,” Speraw said. “We were pretty focused on what we needed to win, and you could see that in the result.”

Matheney, who recorded four blocks on the night, said the game plan at the net played a key role in the team’s success there.

“Our net play was really good today – we got a lot of blocks, actually,” Matheney said. “Big shout out to our coaches telling us about tendencies, telling us where to go – it was up to us to just execute, and we did that.”

With the Bruins needing three points to win the match, Matheney recorded a block assist, notched a kill and then hit a service ace that hit the tape and trickled over the net to win the set and match for UCLA.

“It definitely feels good,” said redshirt senior middle blocker Matt Younggren. “We’re just really trying to be relentlessly positive every play, just always onto the next. Just play each point one by one and keep it going.”

Missing from the first matchup between the teams was the Bruins’ leader in kills – senior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah. In the rematch, Gyimah made his presence known by leading the game in kills while setting his season high at 16.

UCLA will return to league play Friday when it travels to take on No. 9 Pepperdine. Even with the win, Speraw said his players need to continue to improving before the postseason.

“I feel like we’ve had different phases of the season where we really got to work on this, and then we really got to on that. Even now it’s something a little different,” Speraw said. “It’s just a matter of, do we have enough time, do we have enough focus with the practice time that we have left to make the changes necessary for us to win at the end?”

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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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