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UCLA women’s volleyball prepares for first match in Long Beach State Tournament

Graduate student setter Shelby Martin and No. 18 UCLA women’s volleyball will be gearing up for the Long Beach State Tournament this week. Martin made her Bruin debut Sunday with 46 assists after transferring from Kansas State. (Courtesy of Scott D. Weaver)

Women's Volleyball


Long Beach State
Thursday, 7 p.m.

Walter Pyramid
ESPN+
Portland State
Friday, 5 p.m.

Walter Pyramid
No TV info
No. 16 Georgia Tech
Saturday, 3 p.m.

Walter Pyramid
No TV info

By David Deng

Sept. 1, 2021 4:07 p.m.

The Bruins will kick off their first tournament of the season against the host team.

No. 18 UCLA women’s volleyball (1-0) will be playing three opponents in three days in the Long Beach State Tournament. The blue and gold will face the host team Long Beach State (2-1) in its first match Thursday, Portland State (1-2) on Friday and No. 16 Georgia Tech (4-0) – the latter being the team’s first ranked opponent this season – Saturday.

Despite winning its season-opening match against UC Davis on Sunday, coach Michael Sealy said UCLA is hoping to reach an even higher standard of excellence in this tournament by finding a better rhythm during matches.

“I don’t think we ever really found a rhythm,” Sealy said. “I don’t think we were very precise in what we were doing.”

First-year Bruin and graduate student setter Shelby Martin said the lack of rhythm was attributed not to a lack of chemistry, but rather to the presence of nerves.

“It really was just first-game jitters,” Martin said. “Once we settled in after the first set, we fought really hard, we continued to play with each other. It’s really just getting the rust off right now. We got the first win under our belt, so it’s really just uphill from here.”

According to graduate student outside hitter/opposite Mac May, one player to keep an eye out for when UCLA takes on Long Beach State is redshirt sophomore middle blocker Anna Dodson.

“Anna Dodson is going to have an incredible season coming up,” May said. “She has been battling injuries her first two years here, and knock on wood, she’s been really, really healthy and just been firing on the court.”

Dodson had a career-high 12 kills in the match against the Aggies, leading the team in hitting percentage at .526.

The last time the Bruins faced the host team was in 2019 at the Long Beach State Mizuno Classic. In that match, UCLA capped an undefeated tournament with a 3-0 sweep of the host school.

The Bruins will have the opportunity to work on setter adjustments during the tournament, an area of focus for Martin, who said setting at UCLA has been a very different experience from setting at Kansas State, her former school.

“Sealy has been a well-established setter and he’s getting me to reach my full potential so I’ve just been having the mindset of ‘You can teach an old dog new tricks,’” Martin said. “I’ve been working really hard, Sealy has been pushing me, and it has been great. It’s just a whole other level, higher speed, faster offense, but I am adjusting well.”

Thursday’s match begins at 7 p.m., the second of the Bruins’ eight consecutive nonconference matches to begin the season.

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David Deng | Sports staff
Deng is currently a Sports staffer on the men's volleyball beat. He was previously a reporter on the gymnastics and women's volleyball beat and a contributor on the cross country and track & field beats.
Deng is currently a Sports staffer on the men's volleyball beat. He was previously a reporter on the gymnastics and women's volleyball beat and a contributor on the cross country and track & field beats.
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