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USD invitational results in first season loss for UCLA women’s volleyball

Senior defensive specialist/libero Zoe Fleck had a season-high 20 digs but picked up three service errors in No. 16 UCLA women’s volleyball’s five-set loss to No. 25 San Diego. (Anna Syed/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Tung Lin

Sept. 12, 2021 5:39 p.m.

The first five-set match of the season resulted in the Bruins’ first loss.

No. 16 UCLA women’s volleyball (5-1) fell to No. 25 San Diego (5-2) on Thursday but defeated San Diego State (1-7) on Friday in the USD Invitational Tournament.

During the 3-2 loss against the Toreros, the Bruins saw multiple subzero hitting percentages – hitters who accumulated more hitting errors than kills – on both sides of the net. UCLA’s hitters lost 35 points to hitting errors, while San Diego’s dropped 28.

While UCLA and San Diego had similar overall attacking numbers, coach Michael Sealy said it was the difference in passing accuracy that determined the outcome of the game.

“That’s what starts to cascade down – the fact that they serve so tough, so we’re out of system,” Sealy said. “We hadn’t been out of system in a while since UC Davis, so we’ve kind of forgotten how to run our offense in medium situations.”

Sealy said his team struggled with a clean receive throughout the match. The Bruins gave up six service aces – a season high.

The Toreros also recorded fewer service errors, missing four serves to UCLA’s 13.

Graduate student outside/opposite hitter Mac May – who achieved a career high of 30 kills during the loss – said her offensive performance didn’t reflect the overall match.

“(The) tool off that outside hand was working for me in that match, but realistically it was a pretty grind of a match,” May said. “It would not be possible with the rest of my team, and so, props to them.”

In the fifth set, the Bruins tied the game at 11-11, but ultimately lost the frame and match at 15-12.

After UCLA’s first defeat, senior libero/defensive specialist Zoe Fleck said the team still had multiple positive takeaways.

“It was honestly a great preseason loss for us,” Fleck said. “ We learned a lot about who we are as a team, things we need to get better at, things we are already good at. And that’s what preseason is all about.”

Following the defeat against the Toreros, the Bruins swept the Aztecs 3-0 on Friday, keeping set margins above seven points.

After a tied game at 8-8 in set two, San Diego State pulled ahead with a four-point run, and UCLA immediately responded with a four-point run of its own to tie the game at 12-12.

“Today we went to the match, focusing on cleaning up a lot of little things that will contribute to the big picture,” May said.

While the Bruins’ service errors per set remained at around two compared to Thursday’s match, their overall hitting percentage increased about 20 percent against the Aztecs.

UCLA will have a full week before its next match against Butler and Milwaukee in Indianapolis for the Bulldog Brawl.

“We got to be better with assignments and quality of touch,” Sealy said.

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Tung Lin | Video senior staff
Lin was 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 was 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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