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With composure and clutch plays, UCLA men’s volleyball sweeps Loyola Chicago

Members of UCLA men’s volleyball celebrate after winning a point. (Myka Fromm/Assistant Photo editor)

Men's Volleyball

No. 1 UCLA3
No. 10 Loyola Chicago0

By Connor Dullinger

Jan. 14, 2024 9:19 p.m.

This post was updated Jan. 16 at 12:25 a.m.

Saturday evening was a game of runs for the Bruins.

After finishing all three sets on scoring runs, No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball (4-0) emerged from the Gentile Arena in Illinois, having swept No. 10 Loyola Chicago (1-5). Despite the ultimate Bruin victory, it was a back-and-forth affair that featured a total of 26 ties and nine lead changes across the three sets.

As each of the three sets went down to the wire, the Bruins closed the Ramblers out on a 3-0, 5-0 and 4-0 scoring run, respectively.

Despite the tense contest, coach John Speraw said he felt calm and collected.

“The guys are steady,” Speraw said. “The poise right now is very high. I think that the guys understand that the opposing teams are going to make some plays, and then we are going to make some plays.”

Sophomore setter Andrew Rowan added that the Bruins leverage their composure when stakes are high.

“I think composure is one of our biggest strengths,” Rowan said. “When we play any team, they are going to come out swinging. We know that. Teams are going to try and play the best game of their lives against us. We need to manage these runs when they happen, and then respond accordingly.”

After the Ramblers went on a 5-2 run to bring the first set to 22-20, the Bruins concocted a 3-0 spurt to ultimately claim the frame – a pattern that was common throughout the contest.

UCLA countered an effort from Loyola Chicago to snip its deficit with a run to conquer the second set. The Bruins followed suit in the third set with a 4-0 run to claim the third set and thereby the match.

Junior outside hitter/opposite Ido David – who finished the match with 12 kills on 18 attempts – said his own ambition and the expectations of others allow him to be consistent.

“My main job is to attack the ball and get the kills,” David said. “I know that this is what I need to do, and that I am expected to do well. I am always focusing on how I can improve, whether it comes to my range or my overall play.”

David is not the only Bruin who has remained consistent throughout the start of the season. Rowan added 32 assists Saturday evening – his third 30-assist showing in as many games.

Rowan said beyond the number on the scoresheet, the work of his teammates spurs his performance.

“It all starts with the pass, too, so all credit to those guys who get me the ball, and all credit to the hitters that put the ball away,” Rowan said. “It is more of a team effort than an individual statistic.”

Clutch plays from various players that allowed UCLA to go on runs at the right times ultimately handed it the victory. Speraw said strong performances in big moments will be a theme for the season to come.

“The best part about this team is that I can look to a number of guys when it comes to clutch moments,” Speraw said. “There were a handful of times when different guys stepped up, and I know it will be like that for the rest of the year.”

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Connor Dullinger
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