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UCLA men’s volleyball serves 4-set defeat to UC San Diego

No. 2 UCLA men’s volleyball celebrates following its victory over No. 14 UC San Diego on Wednesday in La Jolla. The Bruins set a season-high 13 service aces, including four apiece from freshman outside hitter/opposite Ido David and sophomore outside hitter Ethan Champlin. (Vivian Xu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Men’s Volleyball

No. 2 UCLA3
No. 14 UC San Diego1

By Abigail Siatkowski

Feb. 9, 2022 10:00 p.m.

This post was updated Feb. 10 at 12:07 p.m.

LA JOLLA — The Bruins served up a victory.

In its second match on the road this season, No. 2 UCLA men’s volleyball (7-1) tallied a season-high 13 service aces to defeat No. 14 UC San Diego (3-5) 3-1 on Wednesday evening at the Rimac Arena in La Jolla.

Coach John Speraw said his team’s success at the service line was a crucial part of the match.

“The most important thing is we had 13 aces tonight and in critical junctures too,” Speraw said.

Kicking off the opening set, the Bruins lagged behind the Tritons for 18 rallies until the two teams came to a 9-9 tie. Service errors marked those plays, with one from sophomore setter/opposite Miles Partain and another from junior outside hitter/opposite Cole Ketrzynski within the Bruins’ first six serves. 

UCLA soon regained its footing to capture the lead for 14 consecutive rallies but ultimately could not claim the set victory. Despite taking two timeouts within the final 10 points, the Bruins lost the opening period 25-22 after a serve from redshirt sophomore middle blocker Merrick McHenry sailed out of bounds and gave the winning score to the Tritons. 

The Bruins ended the period with six service errors overall, including two within the last three points of the frame. One service error came from sophomore outside hitter Ethan Champlin and the final error from McHenry. 

Contrasting the mistakes of the first set, Champlin scored four service aces in a row early in the second period to take a 9-2 advantage. The Bruins kept up the momentum throughout the set, maintaining a lead that grew as large as nine points.

Champlin said his teammates’ performances were important in the turnaround from the first period.

“I was able to get four aces, which was nice, but my teammates came in toward the end of the set and played great,” he said.

The second set also saw a reduction in attack errors, as UCLA ended with three, compared to the five it committed in the opening set, while also more than doubling its hitting percentage from 0.207 to 0.429. The Bruins claimed their first winning frame of the match, edging out the home team 25-18.

Leading up to Wednesday’s match, Champlin said the team worked on rallying from behind in order to turn a set defeat into match victory.

“This week in practice, we really practiced a lot of being down … and trying to score points and come back and win a game, and it helped our mental energy,” Champlin said.

Mirroring the opening frame, the third set began with the Bruins once again at a deficit to the Tritons. McHenry and Ketrzynski committed service errors in their first and second serves of the frame, respectively.

After racking up two service errors to that point, Partain delivered a successful serve that brought both teams to a 9-9 tie after a block from redshirt junior opposite Kevin Kobrine. Behind five straight attempts at the service line from freshman outside hitter/opposite Ido David, four of them aces, the Bruins jumped ahead by two points.

David also hit the 10th service ace of the match for UCLA, surpassing the team’s previous season-high set against Cal State Northridge on Jan. 27. The aces he scored Wednesday also brought him a new career high in the statistic.

“I know that I have a good serve, and I can make points,” David said. “Tonight I (proved) it to myself, first of all, and for the others – for my team, for my coaches, for the crowd that came.”

With set point up for grabs, Partain once again found himself at the serving line and seized the moment. An attack error from UCSD outside hitter Kyle McCauley that brought the ball out of bounds gave UCLA its second set victory of the match, a 25-23 win.

In the fourth set, the Bruins were once again able to secure an early lead that they kept throughout the frame. Five consecutive serves from Champlin would round out the contest, securing a 25-16 UCLA triumph.

Speraw said the batches of aces from Champlin and David were highlights of the game.

“(The service aces) came in clusters, and those clusters helped us win those individual sets,” Speraw said.

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Abigail Siatkowski | PRIME director
Siatkowski is the 2022-2023 PRIME director. She was previously the 2021-2022 PRIME content editor and a contributor for the Arts, News, Sports and Outreach sections. She is also a third-year communication student at UCLA.
Siatkowski is the 2022-2023 PRIME director. She was previously the 2021-2022 PRIME content editor and a contributor for the Arts, News, Sports and Outreach sections. She is also a third-year communication student at UCLA.
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