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Women’s volleyball switches up rotation, splits series against Washington State

Freshman outside/opposite hitter Allison Jacobs recorded 10 digs and picked up an ace as the Bruins grabbed the second match of a doubleheader against No. 24 Washington State. (Alex Driscoll/Daily Bruin staff)

Women's Volleyball

No. 18 UCLA2
No. 24 Washington State 3
No. 18 UCLA3
No. 24 Washington State1

By Tung Lin

Feb. 7, 2021 8:50 a.m.

After another loss, the Bruins took the final match against the Cougars over the weekend.

No. 18 UCLA women’s volleyball (4-2) split back-to-back matches against No. 24 Washington State (4-2) in Pullman on Thursday and Saturday, winning the final faceoff 3-1.

The Bruins lost their first five-set match of the season 2-3 on Thursday. UCLA won the first set and then the teams alternated set victories, but Washington State closed out the last set 15-9. Three of the first four sets had at least a nine-point margin of victory with the third set, a 28-26 Bruin win, being the exception.

During that third set, UCLA trailed 24-20 but was able to tie the score at 24-24, before later winning three consecutive rallies to win the set by two points.

Freshman outside/opposite hitter Allison Jacobs said she noticed the pattern of sets they won and lost and acknowledged the lessons of her freshman season so far.

“The more I play, the more I learn the importance of consistency,” Jacobs said. “(Like) being a great teammate so then as a whole, the team can thrive with everyone’s energy.”

Setter Hannah Pukis accumulated 48 assists as the Cougars’ only setter on the court playing all around for the entire match – never substituting off. Her presence in the front row also resulted in five kills, two of which occurred in the match-deciding set.

After the loss Thursday, the Bruins returned to Bohler Gym on Saturday with a new lineup and rotation. Instead of having two setters rotate in and out, UCLA had one setter, junior Devon Chang, play all around – similar to what Washington State ran.

Chang said it was the team’s first time running the new rotation in an actual match, and despite the inexperience, the Bruins got the win.

The junior also had an unconventional play in the middle of the third set against the Cougars on Saturday. During a scramble to keep the ball up after a block from Washington State, Chang kicked the ball over the net to keep the play going.

“It was just a random play,” Chang said. “I saw the ball coming down and stuck my foot out hoping to keep it alive, which is kind of rare but I’m glad we got the point.”

Washington State recorded a hitting percentage of .336 on Thursday but only .127 in the rematch. Coach Michael Sealy attributed the decrease in the Cougars’ hitting percentage to his team’s good defense and serving.

“We could have missed fewer serves but their hitting percentage would have gotten higher,” Sealy said. “We have four aces. They didn’t pass very well, so they weren’t able to run their offense. You can definitely deal with more (serving) errors as long as you’re keeping them out of their offense.”

In the third set Saturday, UCLA had two service errors while Washington State had none. However, the Cougars recorded eight kills, their lowest number of kills in a set for that match, and Sealy’s team ended up winning the set and eventually the match 3-1.

In terms of defense, the Bruins out-dug the Cougars in both matches. UCLA had 54 digs Thursday and 51 on Saturday.

“Shoutout to our libero (junior defensive specialist/libero Zoe Fleck) for controlling serve receives,” Jacobs said. “She’s always helping us take seams, so we can worry about hitting. She’s picking up setter dumps a lot because (Washington State) ran a 5-1, so the consistency from her is always, always helpful.”

UCLA returns home to face Washington in Pauley Pavilion on Friday and Sunday.

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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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