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UCLA men’s volleyball clinches series sweep against Grand Canyon in doubleheader

Sophomore outside hitter/opposite Ido David smiles with his teammates. David and the Bruins bested Grand Canyon on Friday and Saturday. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

Men's Volleyball

No. 2 UCLA3
No. 5 GCU1
No. 2 UCLA3
No. 5 GCU0

By Anthony Aroyan

April 2, 2023 1:29 p.m.

This post was updated April 2 at 10:31 p.m.

For two nights in a row, UCLA was the unstoppable force chipping away at an immovable object.

No. 2 UCLA men’s volleyball (23-2, 8-0 MPSF) secured the series sweep against No. 5 Grand Canyon (21-4, 6-4) over the weekend. The series allowed the team to maintain its momentum in its eight-match streak away from Westwood, where the blue and gold won seven and lost one.

Both matches over the weekend saw sets go well into extra points. The first match of the doubleheader forced the Bruins to engage in back-to-back overtime sets to start the weekend. Despite dropping the first set in a 31-29 fashion, the team was able to rally together and win the following three frames.

“We knew that this weekend was going to be tough and that GCU was going to give us a very good fight,” said sophomore outside hitter/opposite Ido David. “They studied us very well and knew what to do against us to give us a good fight.”

Reversing the fortunes the following night, UCLA won the opening frame in another overtime battle which saw the blue and gold hit .500 on 34 attempts. After the close opener, the team handily secured the sweep.

Already several months into the regular season, coach John Speraw said he believes his team has matured mentally since the start of the campaign in January.

“We’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Speraw said. “There’s a certain amount of patience and poise we’re playing with right now. It’s the characteristics of a pretty mature team.”

Friday’s contest was studded by the action at the service line. The blue and gold scored seven service aces, three of which came off the hands of David. However, the Bruins also allotted 21 service errors on the night, marking the sixth game of the year with 20-plus service errors.

For the second match, the Bruins were not able to replicate the same success from the line, only tallying two aces alongside 15 service errors. Despite the reduced numbers, UCLA’s offense showed its versatility with an uptick of 29 swings per set from the outside.

Offensively, the leaders for the Bruins in the series were David and junior outside hitter Ethan Champlin. The duo tallied 25 kills each across both matches. David also continued his streak of double-digit kill performances, averaging 13.6 kills over his last five appearances.

“He (David) is the best opposite in the country. He can hit hard, but he’s also really smart,” Champlin said. “He loves to play well for his teammates and hates playing bad for his teammates.”

(Amelie Ionescu/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Ethan Champlin receives a serve. The junior outside hitter collected 25 kills and nine digs in the Bruins’ season sweep of Grand Canyon. (Amelie Ionescu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Champlin recorded nine digs across both matches, tied with senior outside hitter Alex Knight for second-most of the series. A combination of offensive and defensive contributions has earned Champlin the plaudits of both Speraw and his teammates.

David credits Champlin’s strengths to his deep array of skills and varied playstyle.

“He (Champlin) has a lot of tools,” David said. “He can spike really hard, he can tip, he can cycle the ball, he can get a point from everything because he has so many options.”

The overtime sets and the eventual victories that followed helped propel the Bruins forward in their charge toward the postseason – where the blue and gold remains the only team left in the MPSF undefeated in conference play.

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Anthony Aroyan
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