Men’s volleyball claims undefeated victory over Cal State Northridge
Redshirt freshman outside hitter Grant Sloane goes up for a jump serve during No. 2 UCLA men’s volleyball’s victory over Cal State Northridge on Thursday. In the victory, Sloane made his Bruin debut and led the team with 10 kills. (Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)
|Cal State Northridge||0|
|No. 2 UCLA||3|
By Lauren Kim
Jan. 28, 2022 2:44 p.m.
For the first time, Grant Sloane stepped onto the court with the blue and gold.
After a year of no action, the redshirt freshman outside hitter started and played through a full match Thursday night.
“To finally join the guys out on the court felt really good,” Sloane said. “To have (my teammates’) support and hearing them cheer me on was awesome.”
Behind a team-high 10 kills from Sloane, No. 2 UCLA men’s volleyball (4-0) swept Cal State Northridge (0-1) at the John Wooden Center. The Bruins’ triumph marked Sloane’s first career start and appearance, as the redshirt freshman also led the team with a hitting percentage of .471.
Redshirting the entirety of the previous season, Sloane said he was not focused on the stats and that his performance reflected how well everyone around him played.
Sloane started off the opening set with an attack error, one of his two for the match. His miss-hit contributed to a 4-1 Matador run – courtesy of attack errors from two additional Bruins. Despite tallying six errors to start the period, UCLA was able to come back and knot the frame at 12-all.
“Sometimes you start off matches, and you’re not as connected as you’d like to be,” said coach John Speraw. “You’re not always going to play a perfect volleyball match, but I thought they did enough in that first set to turn it around.”
With Sloane attacking from the outside, he swung for an error-less four kills, giving the Bruins a narrow 27-25 first set victory.
Sloane continued his streak, scoring two kills in a row at the start of the second set and ending the frame with another four kills. The outside hitter also picked up his first service ace, extending UCLA’s lead to five in the early stages of the set.
“For his first match, stepping on the court as a freshman – outstanding,” Speraw said. “Obviously hitting .471 is great, and I thought he served really well tonight, (he) passed really well tonight.”
The Bruins would ride their early lead to a 25-18 second set victory, maintaining at least a one-point gap throughout between the two teams.
Playing alongside Sloane in the starting lineup was redshirt freshman middle blocker Guy Genis. On the heels of an Off the Block National Middle Attacker of the Week honor, Genis chipped in seven kills – the most of any middle blocker in the match – to go with his team-high tying three blocks.
Like Sloane, however, Genis had his lowest kill total of any set in the third period. Behind three total kills between the two teammates, UCLA played to a 25-22 third set victory – its closest period since the opening frame.
“I think the third set we just took our foot off the gas a bit,” Genis said.
Despite compiling an undefeated start through matches, Genis said the Bruins’ ability to close out matches has room for improvement.
“That’s something that we’ve got to work on,” Genis said. “Especially the finish of the sets, we’ve got to be much more aggressive and execute.”