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UCLA men’s volleyball defeats Grand Canyon with season-high block performance

Sophomore outside hitter Ethan Champlin goes up at the net against Grand Canyon on Thursday. Champlin picked up a solo block en route to his team’s season-best block performance. (Alex Driscoll/Daily Bruin staff)

men’s volleyball

No. 8 Grand Canyon0
No. 1 UCLA3

By Leila Bivins

March 4, 2022 2:10 p.m.

The Bruins continued their winning streak behind a season-best defensive performance.

No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball (11-2, 3-0 MPSF) improved its winning streak to four matches with a sweep against No. 8 Grand Canyon (9-7, 3-2) at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday evening. Playing to set scores of 25-14, 25-19, 25-21, the Bruins finished with a season-high 14 blocks.

Redshirt freshman middle blocker Guy Genis led UCLA with two solo blocks and five block assists en route to finishing the match with 11.5 points – the second highest on the team.

Genis said the team’s performance came from scouting the Lopes’ personnel.

“The defensive side starts with mentality,” Genis said. “We wanted to play, and we knew they were going to be a hard team to beat. We knew every ball got to go up, every ball got to get blocked.”

Grand Canyon entered Thursday’s match coming off a pair of victories against BYU – its first regular-season sweep over the Cougars in program history. Lopes outside hitter Christian Janke was named AVCA Division I-II Men’s Player of the Week after he led Grand Canyon with 52 kills in the doubleheader against BYU.

Sophomore outside hitter Ethan Champlin – who finished Thursday’s contest with four block assists and eight kills – said the Bruins utilized their bench players in practice to prepare for the Lopes’ offensive scheme.

“We spent a couple days preparing,” Champlin said. “Our bench guys who are on the other side of the net during practice did a great job mimicking Grand Canyon offense. It was a whole collective effort, a collective team effort during practice.”

Janke – who notched 31 kills in his last match – was limited to 13 kills against UCLA as the Lopes tallied a season-low single-match hitting percentage at .172.

(Joseph Hsing/Daily Bruin)
Redshirt freshman Guy Genis looks on before a Grand Canyon serve Thursday. Genis finished with two solo blocks and five block assists in the sweep. (Joseph Hsing/Daily Bruin)

In a frame featuring two ties, UCLA did not trail in the first set after limiting Grand Canyon to 14 points. Both teams ended the set with nine kills, though the Bruins finished with eight block assists to the Lopes’ single solo block.

The Bruins closed the second set with 13 kills on a .650 team hitting percentage. UCLA upped its opening period block total with nine block assists and a solo block in the frame.

Coach John Speraw – whose Bruins tied their longest winning streak of the season in Thursday’s triumph – said the victory boiled down to UCLA’s defense at the net.

“It started with our block, … we were stuffing a lot of balls, and even if we weren’t, we were touching a lot and getting in a good position,” Speraw said. “It made them think about their shots. It was pretty impressive. I thought we played good volleyball, good overall volleyball.”

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Leila Bivins | Sports contributor
Bivins is currently a Sports contributor on the men's volleyball beat.
Bivins is currently a Sports contributor on the men's volleyball beat.
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