UCLA men’s volleyball sweeps Pepperdine to secure MPSF tournament hosting rights
Redshirt junior opposite Kevin Kobrine delivers a serve across the net Saturday. Kobrine nabbed a double-double with a team-high 11 kills and 10 digs in No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball’s home victory over No. 8 Pepperdine. (Anya Yakimenko/Daily Bruin)
|No. 8 Pepperdine||0|
|No. 1 UCLA||3|
By Lauren Kim
April 10, 2022 11:27 p.m.
The Bruins secured a win and hosting privileges for the upcoming Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament along with it.
No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball (19-3, 9-1 MPSF) closed out its home-and-home series against No. 8 Pepperdine (14-9, 5-5) with its second sweep in a row on Saturday evening. With the win, the Bruins clinched the conference’s top seed, guaranteeing them a spot in the MPSF semifinals after taking down the Waves on the road Thursday.
In an opening frame featuring eight ties, no team led by more than two points until the Bruins pushed ahead in the second half of the set. A block assist from junior outside hitter Alex Knight, redshirt freshman middle blocker Guy Genis and sophomore setter/opposite Miles Partain gave UCLA a 18-15 lead.
Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Merrick McHenry knocked down a kill to give UCLA the 25-23 opening-set win. McHenry said he was satisfied with his offensive performance.
“I was happy with my attempts and how I was swinging at the ball and how I was seeing the block – also when I was attacking,” McHenry said. “I honestly felt super good about how I played tonight.”
McHenry ended the night with 10 kills – the second most for the Bruins – and his four block assists tied Genis’ and Partain’s for the most on the team.
The Waves hung within a point of the Bruins for nearly half of the second set. Knight extended UCLA’s lead to three – the team’s largest of the period to that point – with a kill before the blue and gold’s advantage continued to grow.
After churning out a team-high five kills in the opening set, redshirt junior opposite Kevin Kobrine added two more kills and the first service ace for the Bruins in the second frame, contributing to their 25-19 win.
Despite his team-leading performance Saturday, Kobrine said he owed the victory to his teammates, referencing the first match of the series Thursday.
“I might have led the team in kills, but the game before, on Thursday, I struggled and my teammates had my back,” Kobrine said. “Some days I’m on, some days I’m off, but I know I can trust my teammates if I’m on or off.”
Like the previous two frames, the final set also started off with rallies from both teams, with the Bruins and the Waves tying five times. The score was within four points for the majority of the set, but the set ended with UCLA defeating Pepperdine 25-19.
Coach John Speraw said UCLA’s second sweep against Pepperdine reflected a team rounding into form ahead of the postseason.
“(The) team played great volleyball tonight, defensively, offensively. … I just felt like this is a really good volleyball effort for us tonight,” Speraw said. “We had to play pretty well in order to beat a team like we did tonight.”
UCLA will play two more regular-season games before hosting the MPSF Volleyball Tournament on April 20, 21 and 23 at Pauley Pavilion.