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Tracking COVID-19 at UCLA

Men’s volleyball overtakes USC with back-to-back 4-set wins

Playing for the first time in the month of February, sophomore outside hitter/opposite Cole Ketrzynski set a career highs in kills Thursday and Saturday with 18 and 21 kills, respectively. (Elise Tsai/Daily Bruin)

Men's Volleyball


No. 7 UCLA3
USC1
No. 7 UCLA3
USC1

By Nick Darrow

Feb. 22, 2021 1:04 p.m.

After a four-set loss to the Trojans on Saturday, Feb. 13, the Bruins were able to flip the script.

No. 7 UCLA men’s volleyball (4-2, 4-2 MPSF) beat USC (1-2, 1-2 MPSF) at the Galen Center twice in four sets, by scores of 25-23, 25-20, 27-29, 25-21 on Thursday and 27-25, 25-21, 23-25, 34-32 on Saturday, taking the season series two matches to one.

Four days after falling to their crosstown rivals, the Bruins were able to capitalize on the return of sophomore outside hitter/opposite Cole Ketrzynski, who had a career-high 18 kills Thursday in his first match since Jan. 29 against Grand Canyon. Ketrzynski followed Thursday’s performance by setting another career high with 21 kills Saturday.

“Obviously (Ketrzynski) is one of our key offensive weapons. He is effective on the left and on the right,” said coach John Speraw. “He can just do a lot for us. He is a real physical player and can serve, block and attack in ways that are unique and are critical for our team right now.”

After two sets of hitting .391 and .292, respectively, UCLA dropped the third set 29-27 after having a match point at 27-26, with UCLA leading. In the end, however, the Bruins won the fourth set 25-21 to win Thursday’s match.

Speraw said not sweeping his opponents isn’t concerning and explained that as his team improves, they will stop needing the fourth set.

“I know that we have lost a couple third sets when we have been up,” Speraw said. “At this point I am not reading too much into that. I am watching our play and the areas we need to improve, and when we do make those improvements, we aren’t going to lose third sets when up two to zero.”

On Saturday, with USC men’s basketball competing at the Galen Center, the volleyball game was moved to Galen Center Pavilion, a place UCLA has never played a match before, according to Speraw.

Redshirt senior outside hitter/setter Sam Kobrine explained how playing in a new gym affected him.

“I definitely noticed it,” Kobrine said. “It is a tough place to go play, a tough place to serve and pass the ball, but I think we battled today and had a good performance.”

After a 27-25 first set score and a 25-21 second set score Saturday, the Bruins were one set away from a second straight victory.

However, the Trojans stormed back to win the third set 25-23 and took a 24-22 lead in the fourth set, one point away from sending the match to a deciding fifth set. After successfully defending against eight set points, however, UCLA was able to win the fourth set 34-32, winning the match.

Ketrzynski said it was exciting to watch his teammates fight back to win.

“It’s kind of just being in the moment,” Ketrzynski said. “It’s really nice to be able to fight, and everyone was going really hard and getting every ball up and really hustling so that we were able to win every single point we needed.”

Now 4-2 with a series win over the Trojans, the Bruins will face Concordia University Irvine in three matches, with two at home and one away.

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