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Men’s volleyball defeats Stanford in final matchups between the teams

Redshirt senior outside hitter Austin Matautia notched a season-high 14 kills Tuesday before backing up that performance with eight kills Wednesday. (Anika Chakrabarti/Daily Bruin staff)

Men's Volleyball

No. 6 UCLA3
No. 6 UCLA3

By Eden Yu

March 25, 2021 12:33 p.m.

The Bruins faced the Cardinal for what was likely the last time.

No. 6 UCLA men’s volleyball (11-4) defeated Stanford (1-10) twice on the road Tuesday and Wednesday by scores of 35-37, 25-21, 25-17, 25-17 and 25-23, 25-21, 25-18, respectively.

Similar to their first two matches against the Cardinal, the Bruins started off Tuesday’s competition by losing the first set to Stanford after trading points back and forth as both teams hit above .400. UCLA then swept the next three sets for the victory, hitting .437 throughout the match to Stanford’s .281.

Tuesday was full of career highs for the team – sophomore outside hitter/opposite Cole Ketrzynski served up a career-high six aces, redshirt senior outside hitter/setter Sam Kobrine achieved a career-high 61 assists and freshman outside hitter Ethan Champlin pitched in a career-high 18 kills. The team served up 12 aces in total, one of its season highs.

Wednesday’s game saw a different outcome in the first set, as the Bruins won the period while outhitting the Cardinal .429 to .259.

Coach John Speraw said the team improved its performance Wednesday.

“Once again, we weathered a challenging first set, and we were able to get a win this time, so that was overall a better result in the beginning,” Speraw said.

UCLA continued its winning streak and took the next two sets, closing off the match with a 3-0 sweep and outhitting Stanford .432 to .278 overall and serving up 10 aces to Stanford’s two. Champlin led the Bruins with 15 kills.

“We responded well throughout the match,” Champlin said. “When they would make a good play, we would go right back at them. Stanford definitely brought some good energy, but we were matching them with that.”

Redshirt senior outside hitter Austin Matautia added that Kobrine was a key factor in Wednesday’s hitting performance.

“Sam did a really good job. He spread the ball out pretty well, and it kept the blockers guessing, especially because we wanted to incorporate our back-row attack,” Matautia said. “We saw a lot of one-on-one matchups. … It was a good team effort, and our hitting numbers were really high because of that.”

The Bruins have won six of their last seven matches, with four victories against Stanford and none of those going more than four sets.

Speraw said the team was quick to adapt to the changes in Stanford’s lineup.

“They made some adjustments to their lineup, so we had to try to learn as quickly as we could about how we needed to adapt, and I thought we did a good job at that,” Speraw said. “Overall, (I’m) very pleased with a great weekend.”

Unless the two teams meet on the court again in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament, Wednesday’s win marks UCLA’s last game against Stanford, as the university will be permanently cutting its men’s volleyball program after the season ends.

The Bruins will continue on the road and play No. 5 Pepperdine on Wednesday in Malibu.

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Eden Yu | Sports contributor
Yu is currently a Sports contributor on the cross country and women's soccer beats. She was previously a contributor on the track & field and men's volleyball beats.
Yu is currently a Sports contributor on the cross country and women's soccer beats. She was previously a contributor on the track & field and men's volleyball beats.
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