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UCLA women’s volleyball takes home 2 wins from Bulldog Brawl tournament

No. 19 UCLA women’s volleyball completed its nonconference regular-season schedule in Indiana with two wins at the Bulldog Brawl. Entering Pac-12 play, the Bruins are 7-1. (Christine Kao/Daily Bruin)

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No. 19 UCLA3
Butler1
No. 19 UCLA3
Milwaukee1

By Tung Lin

Sept. 19, 2021 11:20 a.m.

The Bruins ended their nonconference schedule with a pair of wins.

No. 19 UCLA women’s volleyball (7-1) defeated both Butler (6-7) on Friday and Milwaukee (6-6) 3-1 Saturday during the Bulldog Brawl tournament in Indianapolis.

Coming off of their first loss of the season against San Diego on Sept. 9, the Bruins won both matches in four sets. The Bulldogs took their respective third set, while the Panthers started off with a first set win.

UCLA won 25-14 in the first set against Butler, who shrunk the deficit by five points in the second set. The Bulldogs flipped the third set before losing the match point 20-25 to the Bruins.

“Our issue (Friday) was the quality of touch wasn’t as clean as we’d like to be,” said coach Michael Sealy.

Friday, UCLA accumulated six receiving errors and a .247 hitting percentage – 12 percentage points lower than the team’s .259 average.

In the run-up to the conference schedule, Sealy’s team has employed a single setter on the court in matches. Graduate student setter Shelby Martin said she feels confident in the five-hitter-and-one-setter setup.

“We’re still working out the little stuff like connection and timing, but with every match it gets better and we just keep finding it,” Martin said.

Against Butler, Martin assisted on 37 kills, averaging 9.25 assists per set – slightly lower than her season average of 9.5 assists. The following day versus Milwaukee, Martin averaged 10.25 assists per set.

The Bruins fell to the Panthers 25-15 off the first set. The set was tied 14-14 before Milwaukee pulled away with a 10-point run and a final kill on UCLA’s serve.

“Our hiccup in the first set was more of not following the game plan,” Sealy said. “We had some assignments that we wanted to do against them, and we didn’t follow it very well first set.”

Eight of the final 11 points of the first set were Bruin errors. Freshman middle blocker Francesca Alupei said after the first set, the team avoided giving the Panthers free points.

“In the second set, we just didn’t allow them to make those easy points anymore,” Alupei said. “We were focused on our game and to play our game better, so they didn’t get the chance after that to do any points and we just dominated them.”

In the following three sets against Milwaukee, UCLA consistently kept a four-point-or-greater lead. The Panthers scored 14, 17 and 11 points total in each set against the Bruins, respectively.

UCLA hit .319 with freshman outside/opposite hitter Charitie Luper swinging in 18 kills followed by graduate student outside/opposite hitter Mac May with 12 kills. The Bruins also accumulated three times as many blocks as Milwaukee.

With the win, nonconference regular-season play is officially over for UCLA, and the blue and gold will face its crosstown rival USC for the first Pac-12 match of the season Sept. 22.

Both Martin and Alupei said they are confident in the team and its work in progress.

“Our team has a lot of potential, a lot of power,” Alupei said. “We just need to control it.”

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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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