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Weekend preview: March 31

No. 2 UCLA women’s water polo gathers on the pool deck. The team will play its final home game of the season Saturday as the blue and gold host No. 9 Arizona State for the Bruins’ Senior Day. (August Suchecki/Daily Bruin)

By Lauren Kim and Kyle Boal

March 31, 2022 12:15 a.m.

Women’s water polo
Kyle Boal, Daily Bruin senior staff

The Bruins are set to host their final home game of the season.

No. 2 UCLA women’s water polo (21-2, 3-1 MPSF) will go head-to-head with No. 9 Arizona State (13-9, 1-2) at Spieker Aquatics Center on Saturday. The contest will also mark Senior Day for the Bruins as they honor the team’s seven seniors.

Senior center Ava Johnson – the Bruins’ leader in drawn exclusions this season – said while she’s excited to soak in one last home game, her team is focused on getting the victory.

“Spieker has been home to me for the last four years,” Johnson said. “I’m trying not to think too much about Senior Day because we still have the game and we still have to get it done. ASU is a really good team, so we can’t overlook them.”

The Bruins were upset by the Sun Devils last season, falling to their conference counterparts for the second time in program history in an 8-6 loss. UCLA defeated ASU in the next two matchups in 2021, however, including a 12-7 victory in the MPSF championship third-place contest.

Johnson said the Bruins are more prepared this season for the Sun Devils’ unique defense.

“ASU runs a funky defense. Pretty much they run a full zone, and so that was something that we were not really accustomed to,” Johnson said. “This year, we’re really focusing on how we’re going to attack that zone that they like to run against our centers.”

UCLA will take the pool for the final time at home Saturday at noon.

Men’s volleyball
Lauren Kim, Daily Bruin contributor

After a nearly monthlong slate of away matches, the Bruins will return to Los Angeles this week.

Returning to conference play with a pair of contests against its crosstown rival, No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball (15-3, 5-1 MPSF) will take on No. 5 USC (17-4, 4-2) at the Galen Center on Thursday at 7 p.m. before closing its home-and-home series at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday at 5 p.m.

The Bruins spent the previous week in Atlanta hosting clinics for students and coaches before facing Morehouse and Fort Valley State. Coach John Speraw said his team had a productive visit to Atlanta that allowed it to prepare for its return to Pac-12 play.

“We got a great week last week in Atlanta to get back in the flow of playing again after finals,” Speraw said. “We had some team meetings where we further refined the specific areas of the game we need to emphasize in the remaining weeks.”

Last season, UCLA took the season series over its crosstown rival, winning two out of three matches. A Mountain Pacific Sports Federation foe, USC trails the blue and gold by one match in the conference standings. With a defeat, the Bruins would drop to second in the MPSF – and potentially lose hosting rights to the conference tournament.

Speraw said UCLA is motivated to play even harder in this week’s series, especially since both teams are posting strong season performances.

“They’re playing really good volleyball,” Speraw said. “They’re clearly one of the best teams in the country. They’re a team that we can see many times the rest of this year, so we’re excited about getting on the court against them.”

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Lauren Kim
Kyle Boal | Sports senior staff
Boal is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the women's water polo beat. He was an assistant Sports editor on the gymnastics, rowing, swim and dive, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. Boal was previously a contributor on the men's water polo and women's water polo beats.
Boal is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the women's water polo beat. He was an assistant Sports editor on the gymnastics, rowing, swim and dive, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. Boal was previously a contributor on the men's water polo and women's water polo beats.
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