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UCLA men’s volleyball serves up 1st away victory against Lewis

Sophomore setter Andrew Rowan sets the ball for an attack. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)

Men's Volleyball

No. 1 UCLA3
No. 15 Lewis1

By Anthony Aroyan

Jan. 17, 2024 12:49 p.m.

One thing proved the difference between victory and defeat for the Bruins: the service line.

No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball (4-0) defeated then-No. 15 Lewis (2-2) in its first away match of the season Jan. 11. In a game teeming with scoring runs, neither the Bruins nor the Flyers managed to establish a dominant lead during the contest, with sets maintaining a narrow margin until the final point.

“I think Lewis played outstanding, it was a great environment,” said coach John Speraw. “We played really good volleyball in certain phases of the game – 14 aces was a nice night, and 15 blocks is great. Our aces were very timely as well.”

With both teams exchanging points, performance behind the service line proved the game changer. Both teams struggled to prevent service errors – the Bruins and Flyers picked up 21 and 24 on the night, respectively. Despite conceding points off the serve, UCLA notched 14 aces, six of which transpired in the third frame.

Sophomore setter Andrew Rowan led the line for the Bruins, recording a team-high six service aces alongside 30 assists.

“We’re UCLA – we hit the crap out of the ball,” Rowan said.

Rowan also contributed to the team on the defensive side of the ball, notching seven digs and four block assists as the Bruins often threw multiple blockers at the Flyers’ attacks. A triple block in the final rally of the opening frame gave UCLA a lead that it did not relinquish.

Rowan said blocking gives him extra defensive versatility as a setter.

“They had a lefty outside and a lefty opposite which is not something we see often,” Rowan said. “(Defense) is the weakest part of my game, so I try to get everything that comes to me.”

Despite the Bruins’ success off the serve, they hit for a season-low .228 from the field, featuring attacks that were challenged at the net or landing out of the bounds.

Ethan Champlin was most often on the end of Rowan’s sets. The senior outside hitter notched a team-high 14 kills at a .345 clip. Champlin was responsible for moving the Bruins’ offense along early in the match, collecting eight of his kills in the first two sets.

“I started out well, then had a couple errors in the third and fourth,” Champlin said. “Luckily, my teammates trusted me and Rowan was confident enough to feed me. We just need to stay mentally focused.”

UCLA also dropped its first set of its title-defending season Thursday. In the second frame, the Bruins were outscored 5-1 in the final six rallies and were out-aced by a 4-1 margin – resulting in a 25-22 defeat, letting their opponents tie things up at one set apiece.

Despite the setback, the UCLA rallied to win two straight. Taking advantage of the opposition’s service errors, three kills from Champlin and back-to-back service aces from junior outside hitter/opposite Ido David edged the Bruins ahead of their opponents.

Champlin said tough opponents and close matches may be the norm for the Bruins this season as opponents attempt to conquer the reigning national champions.

“We’re looking forward to getting everyone’s best match,” Champlin said. “They know they’re going to play against the reigning national champions, so we’re looking forward to that challenge.”

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Anthony Aroyan
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