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Women’s volleyball prepares to face Oregon after season-opening wins over Cal

Junior setter Devon Chang had 43 assists in last weekend’s doubleheader against California. Chang was second on the team in assists per set in 2019. (Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

By Tung Lin

Jan. 29, 2021 12:01 p.m.

After a an undefeated weekend at home, the Bruins are leaving the den.

No. 19 UCLA women’s volleyball (2-0) will head north to face Oregon (1-1) this weekend in its first away games in this year’s modified season.

The last time the Bruins were in Eugene, they fell to the Ducks 0-3 despite senior outside hitter Mac May ripping 22 kills. However, UCLA defeated Oregon 3-2 in 2019 when both teams met again in Pauley Pavilion.

“(Oregon) gave us fits last year,” said coach Michael Sealy. “They play the game well, they serve very tough. That’s probably the biggest glaring thing that puts teams in trouble.”

The meeting this year will be different than the past, as the Ducks are without right side hitter Willow Johnson, who led the team in kills during last year’s matchups against the Bruins. On the other hand, UCLA lost outside hitter Savvy Simo to graduation, a player whose contribution spread across the board in terms of kills, digs and aces.

Given it’s been over a year since the teams last met, junior setter Devon Chang said 2021 will be a different challenge.

“Oregon always has a great program, they run a really interesting, cool fast-paced offense,” Chang said. “It’s going to be a really high-level match, and hopefully we can take care of business.”

Another challenge Pac-12 teams face is traveling to play in another state. But with the pandemic still looming, redshirt junior middle blocker Emily Ryan said protocols and precautions are necessary to keep the season going.

“We do need to focus on protocols and being 6 feet in distance, because (with) just one slip up, we can get that all taken away from us,” Ryan said. “(This) is the best opportunity that we can get right now and the fact that we get to play and travel is amazing.”

The Bruins had their season-opening matches versus California at Pauley Pavilion last weekend, where the team played without a crowd.

“I’m glad we got the first (match) out at home because we could adjust to that very easily,” Ryan said.

While it may not have the familiarity of its home gym while visiting Oregon, the Ducks have accommodated for the Bruins to stay multiple days.

“As far as getting practice opportunities up there, all the coaches know that you have to stay flexible,” Sealy said. “As of right now, we’ll be able to practice on the main floor or at least in a practice gym.”

With UCLA set to play Friday and Sunday, Chang said competing gives the players a hint of normalcy.

“It’s really exciting to be able to travel and we’re really grateful to be able to play,” Chang said.

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Tung Lin | Assistant Video Producer
Lin is currently an Assistant Video Producer and a Sports contributor on the women's volleyball beat, and is a second-year psychobiology student. She was previously a 2019-2020 video contributor.
Lin is currently an Assistant Video Producer and a Sports contributor on the women's volleyball beat, and is a second-year psychobiology student. She was previously a 2019-2020 video contributor.
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