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With 3 consecutive aces, UCLA men’s volleyball completes sweep of Stanford

Redshirt junior Grant Sloane slams a kill between two opponents. The outside hitter picked up 20 kills through UCLA men’s volleyball’s doubleheader against Stanford, striking at a .600 clip in Saturday’s affair. (Brandon Morquecho/Photo editor)

Men's Volleyball


No. 6 Stanford0
No. 2 UCLA3

By Lex Wang

March 31, 2024 4:08 p.m.

This post was updated March 31 at 11:21 p.m.

Andrew Rowan held the ball in front of him and tossed it.

A service error on the first point of the game.

Despite 19 faults behind the service line – five of which were committed by the sophomore setter alone – No. 2 UCLA men’s volleyball (18-4, 7-1 MPSF) swept No. 6 Stanford (9-11, 2-6) on Saturday evening at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins punched back-to-back wins of their season doubleheader against the Cardinal.

But with 11 aces by the end of the night, coach John Speraw’s longtime philosophy of serving aggressively proved both high risk and high reward. The Cardinal, in comparison, only recorded 12 errors to their three aces.

“It’s just kind of where the game is played right now,” Speraw said. “The guys can hit the ball so hard. You have to get a team off the net. If they’re going to pass the ball perfectly, you’re not going to win.”

Already ahead by two sets, the Bruins found their serving groove by the end of the final set.

When redshirt senior middle blocker Merrick McHenry stepped up to the line, he hit a team-high three service aces in a row to clinch the frame and the overall sweep.

“Those aces by Merrick at the end were extremely clutch,” said redshirt junior outside hitter Grant Sloane. “After the first one, you see his go-to celebration where he just screams, and it just fires me up. And the second one, I gave him a hug, and the third one, we’re just like, ‘Alright, game’s over.'”

(Eden Yu/Daily Bruin staff)
Redshirt senior middle blocker Merrick McHenry elevates to serve the ball. McHenry clinched the Bruins’ Saturday night sweep of the Cardinal with three consecutive service aces to close out the third set. (Eden Yu/Daily Bruin staff)

Beyond two service aces of his own, Sloane stepped up for the Bruins in more ways than one, delivering 10 kills with only one error at a .600 clip. Notching six kills in the first set alone, the Irvine local sparked the slight lead UCLA needed to propel into a 25-17 win.

Topped off by him jumping over – or more accurately, through – a table to save the point in the middle of the second frame, he also put on a defensive show with three digs.

Sloane said he was focused on continuing to play no matter where the ball was. He added that practices where the team polishes its high-leverage plays – such as kicking the ball or working on pancakes – set him up well for the moment.

“Grant’s such a good guy. He’ll do anything for you – one of the most selfless people I know on and off the court,” said senior outside hitter Ethan Champlin. “I don’t think he was super happy with his performance yesterday. I don’t think anybody else was thinking about it but him, but he bounced back well today.”

Sloane’s performance in the second affair of UCLA’s doubleheader against Stanford came after a .111 clip and seven errors during Friday’s match. The difference-maker, the outside hitter said, was letting go of his discomfort and dissatisfaction amid a crowd of hundreds of people.

Fellow outside hitter Champlin, undeterred or possibly spurred on by a member of the crowd shouting, “I love your mustache, Ethan,” also secured 13 kills on a .391 hitting percentage.

McHenry and redshirt sophomore middle blocker Sean McQuiggan hammered home seven kills each, at 1.00 and .600 clips, respectively. The team confined Cardinal outside hitter Will Rottman, who notched 16 kills of Stanford’s 39 in Friday’s game, to a -.125 clip in the first set and .211 overall.

Looking ahead, Speraw said he hopes the Bruins continue to put serving pressure on their opponents.

“Our serve was great, which gave us a lot of scoring opportunities,” Speraw said. “Overall, really pleased with the results of the weekend. That’s a good team on the other side, and coming away 2-0 is hard to do in this league.”

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Lex Wang | Enterprise editor
Wang is the 2023-2024 Enterprise editor. Previously, she was the 2022-2023 Opinion editor, and prior to that, an assistant Opinion editor. She is Arts and Quad staff and also contributes to News, Sports on the men's volleyball beat, Copy, Design, Photo and Video.
Wang is the 2023-2024 Enterprise editor. Previously, she was the 2022-2023 Opinion editor, and prior to that, an assistant Opinion editor. She is Arts and Quad staff and also contributes to News, Sports on the men's volleyball beat, Copy, Design, Photo and Video.
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