Women’s volleyball begins season with back-to-back wins against California
In her first two matches as a Bruin, freshman outside/opposite hitter Iman Ndiaye combined for 11 blocks – second on the team – as UCLA moved to 2-0. (Alex Driscoll/Daily Bruin staff)
|No. 22 UCLA||3|
|No. 22 UCLA||3|
By Tung Lin
Jan. 25, 2021 1:45 p.m.
Rising out of the pandemic, the Bruins started up their season with victory.
No. 22 UCLA women’s volleyball (2-0) defeated California (0-2) twice this weekend in Pauley Pavilion, only losing one set in the first match.
The COVID-19-adapted schedule has Pac-12 volleyball teams playing two matches against the same opponent within three days to reduce travel.
The Bruins defeated the Golden Bears 3-1on Friday, losing the second set 39-37. UCLA led the game in both kills and service errors with 73 and 19, respectively.
“We served horribly the first night,” said coach Michael Sealy. “It’s like a virus. People haven’t been in the heat of battle in a long time, so (the players are) getting used to having to hit your serve in a pressure situation.”
The first match also entailed the debut of five new recruits, including freshman outside/opposite hitter Iman Ndiaye and junior defensive specialist/libero Zoe Fleck.
“I feel very excited to finally play volleyball again,” Ndiaye said. “Overall as a team, I think we (are) getting past the nerves, getting to know how our team works together and just fighting for points.”
The Bruins pushed through the first match with a total of 22 blocks, with Ndiaye leading with seven blocks in the first match of her collegiate career.
After Friday’s match, UCLA and Cal returned back to Pauley in less than 48 hours for the second match of the season.
Although this season’s schedule is different from normal seasons, Fleck said she likes to play the same team on the same weekend.
“(Cal) came out with their freshmen, just hitting bombs from the outside by freshmen Lydia Grote and Katarina Pantovic, (who) played really really well on Friday,” Fleck said. “It was really cool to see our team come together and make those adjustments that the coaches gave us just after one day of playing (Cal ).”
Ndiaye agreed that playing the same team helped UCLA prepare and do better the next game.
The Bruins took another victory from the Bears on Sunday, sweeping the game 3-0.
While Cal had no ball-handling errors and led the match in total digs, UCLA’s .296 hitting percentage and 19 total blocks bested Cal’s .151 and seven marks in those categories.
Service errors by both teams diminished in the second match, with the Bruins committing 14 fewer and the Bears four. UCLA racked up six aces over Friday and Saturday before Cal had its first, and the Bruins out-aced their rivals 8-1 across the two matches.
Because of the restricted practice time, Sealy said he wasn’t expecting the two conference foes to be in midseason form just yet.
“Every Pac-12 team after one weekend is just remembering how to play again,” Sealy said. “Everyone’s had limited preparation time compared to what we’re used to, so it’s just figuring who your team is in that short period of time, figuring out what you’re good (at) and trying to get better at it.”
UCLA will return to the court Friday when it takes on Oregon on the road.