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Amy’s Angle: UCLA Athletics disrespects men’s volleyball with John Wooden Center matches

Junior outside hitter Ethan Champlin goes up for a serve. UCLA men’s volleyball played in Collins Court for two of its 10 home matches this season. (Julia Zhou/Daily Bruin)

By Amelie Ionescu

March 5, 2023 3:51 p.m.

If there’s one thing UCLA Athletics loves to flaunt, it’s the 120 national titles the school holds.

If there’s one thing UCLA Athletics forgets about during the regular season, it’s the team that contributed most to that total.

UCLA men’s volleyball – the winningest team in school history with 19 national championships – played in its second game of the season in the John Wooden Center on Feb. 18. Just hours earlier, shoes squeaked on the hardwood floor as pickup basketball, pickup volleyball and club basketball teams shared that same court.

And as the No. 2 team in the country faced No. 8 BYU, a top-10 matchup was left forgotten in favor of a men’s basketball game played 2 1/2 hours later in Pauley Pavilion. Rather than trying to fit both home contests in, UCLA Athletics chose men’s volleyball’s start time irrespective of the larger arena’s availability.

The same plight has plagued the women’s team as well. Women’s volleyball had its match with California on Nov. 10 initially scheduled to play in Collins Court before the basketball schedule was finalized and the match was moved to Pauley Pavilion. The saving grace? Seven-and-a-half hours between the two contests.

Men’s volleyball has not fared as well.

Despite a rescheduled home opener against Princeton, the location didn’t change. Rather than attempt to fit both in, women’s basketball was playing Stanford two hours later, and UCLA made little attempt to ensure that men’s volleyball got its chance at Pauley Pavilion too.

Rather than moving the match within a reasonable timeframe for both teams to play in the highly acclaimed Pauley Pavilion, the time was set and the location cemented. Pushing the match a day proved simple for UCLA Athletics, but finding a time to allow both esteemed programs to play in the historic arena remained difficult – or rather unimportant.

The two Bruin basketball teams have had doubleheaders in Pauley Pavilion before – the most recent being on Nov. 7 – with just three hours of space between start times. Coincidentally, since the renovation of the arena in 2012, neither team has had to play anywhere but Pauley Pavilion under the lights and banners and concession stands that frame the acclaimed space.

(Jason Zhu/Daily Bruin staff)
Pauley Pavilion is pictured. The home of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, Pauley Pavilion captures the essence of playing sports at UCLA, according to sophomore outside hitter/opposite Ido David. (Jason Zhu/Daily Bruin staff)

Securing three hours of space between the sports would allow the deconstruction of the volleyball arena into a basketball arena and still leave the desired amount of time between matches.

There are other discrepancies to highlight between sports, with basketball getting the Mo Ostin Basketball Center and volleyball the Student Activities Center for practice. Funding, press coverage, the UCLA band and cheer squads all center around the teams that bring the most acclaim and money to the school.

But no disparity remains as glaring and disrespectful as having a varsity team play matches on the same floor the average student can play pickup on – as having pull-out bleachers in contrast to rows of seats.

Collins Court has its pros – as a smaller venue, the cheers of the fans ring louder and heavier – but the history and atmosphere of Pauley Pavilion outweigh the cons of the quieter arena.

“I love Pauley. I think it’s great,” said senior outside hitter Alex Knight. “I prefer Pauley just because of the history in there.”

Sophomore outside hitter/opposite Ido David echoed the sentiment.

“I prefer Pauley just because I like the gym better,” David said. “Because Pauley Pavilion – the name, the history that is displayed there, in general when you stay there and you look around, it’s impressive. It’s very proud to wear the uniform of UCLA and just stand there.”

UCLA Athletics knows Pauley Pavilion is preferred – it moved the Cal women’s volleyball match there and away from the UCLA Recreation-owned Collins Court when it found the time. But the issue remains the same: It’s a matter of when they find the time, not of making the time.

Men’s volleyball playing in Pauley Pavilion shouldn’t be a scheduling preference.

It should be a scheduling priority.

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Amelie Ionescu | Sports senior staff
Ionescu was previously an assistant Sports editor on the men's volleyball, women's volleyball, swim and dive and rowing beats, and a contributor on the women's tennis beat.
Ionescu was previously an assistant Sports editor on the men's volleyball, women's volleyball, swim and dive and rowing beats, and a contributor on the women's tennis beat.
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