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UCLA men’s volleyball receives final at-large bid for 2022 NCAA tournament

Members of No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball put their hands together in a huddle. The blue and gold will compete in the 2022 NCAA tournament at Pauley Pavilion after earning an at-large bid. (Patrick Shao/Daily Bruin)

By Bryan Palmero

April 24, 2022 11:27 p.m.

In 2018, the Bruins hosted and received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Four years later, the same will hold true.

After failing to automatically qualify to the tournament, UCLA men’s volleyball (21-4, 11-1 MPSF) earned an at-large bid for the 2022 NCAA Tournament on Sunday, marking the team’s return to the biggest stage after a four-year absence. The blue and gold will take on Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champion Pepperdine (19-9, 7-5) in the opening round at Pauley Pavilion on May 3.

UCLA’s tournament hopes were nearly dashed when it dropped a fifth-set tiebreaker to Stanford in the MPSF tournament semifinals on Thursday. With Penn State’s Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association tournament defeat to Princeton and Long Beach State’s Big West championship loss to Hawai’i, the top three programs in the AVCA Men’s Division I-II Coaches Poll all missed out on automatically qualifying.

[Related: Stanford blocks UCLA men’s volleyball’s hopes for MPSF tournament title]

On Sunday, the Beach earned the top seed, and the Bruins received the final at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament.

“All the upsets made it a little bit more unpredictable,” said coach John Speraw. “With that unpredictability comes some stress, of course, but we knew our overall record against common opponents and teams in the tournaments was really good.”

If the Bruins defeat the Waves on May 3, the Beach will await them in the semifinals. The blue and gold took the season series over Pepperdine with two 3-0 victories, while it split two matches with Long Beach State this year.

“It’s not uncommon for you to get to this tournament and play somebody that you played within the last couple of weeks,” Speraw said. “The challenge is, of course, trying to beat a team for the third time this season.”

In its most recent NCAA tournament appearance in 2018, UCLA earned an at-large bid before eventually falling to Long Beach State in the final at Pauley Pavilion.

The Bruins and Waves will do battle May 3 at 5 p.m.

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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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