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UCLA men’s volleyball beats USC to serve 1st home loss of Trojans’ season

Redshirt junior opposite Kevin Kobrine attempts an attack against No. 5 USC on Thursday. Kobrine had a match-high 14 kills in No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball’s victory over its crosstown rival. (Joseph Jimenez/Daily Bruin)

men's volleyball

No. 1 UCLA3
No. 5 USC0

By David Deng

April 1, 2022 5:56 p.m.

The Bruins handed their crosstown rival its first home loss of the season.

No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball (16-3, 6-1 MPSF) swept No. 5 USC (17-5, 4-3) on Thursday by scores of 25-23, 25-19 and 25-17. With the victory, the Bruins snapped the Trojans’ perfect 12-match winning streak at home

Neither team scored more than three consecutive points in the first set, resulting in a tie at 20 points late in the frame. A three point run by the Bruins, however, gave them a lead that they would not relinquish.

UCLA rattled off four consecutive points with sophomore setter/opposite Miles Partain at the service line to take a 12-7 lead in the second set, eventually winning 25-19. The Bruins lost the first point of the third period but retook the lead immediately after, never trailing again en route to a 25-17 set victory.

Sophomore outside hitter Ethan Champlin said an improved serve was important in the turnaround in the second and third sets.

“’SC is a great passing team, and our philosophy is to serve tough,” Champlin said. “There’s risk and reward, but we just told our team to stay aggressive. Don’t serve easier, serve tougher.”

Partain had 32 assists and two aces, while Champlin had nine kills on a .500 hitting percentage and junior outside hitter Alex Knight netted six kills. The Bruins outhit the Trojans .364 to .190 and also outpaced them in kills, aces, blocks and digs.

Redshirt junior opposite Kevin Kobrine finished with a match-high 14 kills on 22 swings, while his brother, USC outside hitter/opposite/setter and former Bruin Sam Kobrine, paced the Trojans with 10 kills.

Kevin Kobrine said being able to play his brother in a crosstown matchup was a special moment for their family.

“The fact that (Sam’s) still continuing his volleyball career, studying business at ‘SC – I want (both) him and UCLA to do well. Very special moment for my family,” Kevin Kobrine said.

(Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)
Redshirt junior opposite Kevin Kobrine (left) and USC outside hitter/opposite/setter Sam Kobrine (right) pose for a photo with their father, David Kobrine (middle). Sam Kobrine transferred to USC from UCLA following the 2021 season. (Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)

Coach John Speraw said adjustments to the lineup on defense have proved beneficial particularly within the back row.

“We’ve made some adjustments and trained quite a bit over the course of the season,” Speraw said. “This lineup we have right now does a great job where you put out (Knight), Champlin and (redshirt senior libero Cole Pender). That’s our best passing lineup.”

Knight led the defense with 11 digs, while Pender and Champlin both had four digs apiece.

UCLA will face off against USC again Saturday at Pauley Pavilion.

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David Deng | Sports staff
Deng is currently a Sports staffer on the men's volleyball beat. He was previously a reporter on the gymnastics and women's volleyball beat and a contributor on the cross country and track & field beats.
Deng is currently a Sports staffer on the men's volleyball beat. He was previously a reporter on the gymnastics and women's volleyball beat and a contributor on the cross country and track & field beats.
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