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UCLA men’s volleyball completes reverse sweep, earns 2 wins over BYU

Freshman outside hitter/opposite Ido David goes up for a serve. David led No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball in kills in both victories against BYU on Friday and Saturday. (Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)

men's volleyball


No. 1 UCLA3
BYU1
No. 1 UCLA3
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By Bryan Palmero

April 17, 2022 9:01 p.m.

The Bruins secured their biggest comeback of the season Saturday night.

According to sophomore setter/opposite Miles Partain, it was the little things that set the team up for success.

“We focused on celebrating – winning those small points,” Partain said. “One of the biggest things he (coach John Speraw) harped on us is to just have that emotional energy.”

Overcoming set deficits in both matches, No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball (21-3, 11-1 MPSF) defeated BYU (8-16, 3-9) by scores of 3-1 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday to close out the regular season. The blue and gold came back from one set down to begin the series before completing a reverse sweep to finish the two-match road trip in Provo, Utah.

UCLA began Saturday with a 28-26 opening-set loss. Despite out-killing and out-hitting BYU with 18 kills and a .484 hitting percentage, the Bruins nabbed one more service error and one more attack error than the Cougars, who clinched the set off the visiting squad’s mistakes.

Speraw said UCLA had its opponent beat in the first set besides BYU’s performance at the service line.

“They had a bunch of aces in the first couple sets, which was really the difference,” Speraw said. “Just about everything else, we were probably better than them in the first set.”

Behind a six-point run in the second frame, the Cougars raced to a seven-point lead, their largest of the match. The Bruins would respond with a 3-0 spurt a rally after, but it would prove futile as they fell 25-20 and found themselves down two sets to none.

With UCLA tallying 10 attack errors to BYU’s six through two sets, redshirt senior middle blocker J.R. Norris IV said Speraw kept the team’s errors in perspective.

“He tacked on to say that volleyball was pretty much a game of mistakes,” Norris said. “We couldn’t get down on ourselves. We just had to keep going.”

Playing in front of a combined more than 8,000 spectators across the two matches in Provo, Partain – who finished with a career-high 58 assists Saturday – added that his opponent’s home crowd took time to get used to from the service line.

(Anya Yakimenko/Daily Bruin)
Sophomore setter/opposite Miles Partain sends the ball over the net against Pepperdine on April 9. Partain finished with a career-high 58 assists in No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball’s reverse sweep victory over BYU on Saturday. (Anya Yakimenko/Daily Bruin)

Midway through the second set, freshman outside hitter/opposite Ido David was substituted in for redshirt junior opposite Kevin Kobrine. The freshman, who last played in a reserve role against USC on April 2 prior to the BYU series, quickly tallied a team-high five kills in the second frame.

David continued pacing the Bruins in kills in the third period with nine, pushing the team to a 25-23 victory and closing the set deficit to one. Assisted by three kills each from Norris and junior outside hitter Alex Knight, David and his offensive stretch continued into the fourth set as he churned out another team-high eight kills en route to a 25-22 UCLA triumph.

Speraw said David, who emerged from the bench to lead the team in kills Friday and Saturday, was the key to UCLA’s victories.

“He came in both nights and was incredible,” Speraw said. “Without Ido, we’d be 0-2.”

The Bruins completed the comeback with a 15-9 fifth-set triumph, completing their first reverse sweep of the season. David picked up two more kills in the decisive frame to finish with a career-high 24 kills – the most of any UCLA player this season.

David first set the tone in Friday’s match, collecting a match-high 18 kills after coming off the bench midway through the first set. The Bruins dropped the opening frame 25-20 but followed their defeat with 25-23, 25-16, and 25-18 set victories for their 20th win of the season.

Norris said UCLA – which will enter the postseason with its most wins in a season since 2018 – has come a long way during the season.

“Where we’re at now compared to the start of the year, it’s honestly like a family here,” Norris said. “We argue at times, but at the end of the day, we all know that we have love for one another and we’re all just working towards the same goal.”

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Bryan Palmero | Daily Bruin senior staff
Palmero is a senior staff writer for Sports. He served as the assistant Sports editor on the softball, beach volleyball, women's volleyball, men's volleyball and men's golf beats from 2021-2022 and a Sports reporter on the beach volleyball and women's volleyball beats in 2021. He is a third-year mathematics and economics student.
Palmero is a senior staff writer for Sports. He served as the assistant Sports editor on the softball, beach volleyball, women's volleyball, men's volleyball and men's golf beats from 2021-2022 and a Sports reporter on the beach volleyball and women's volleyball beats in 2021. He is a third-year mathematics and economics student.
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