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UCLA men’s volleyball secures No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament following at-large bid

Members of UCLA men’s volleyball exult after scoring a point. In Sunday’s selection show, the team earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, claiming the No. 1 seed. (Jeremy Chen/Photo editor)

By Connor Dullinger

April 21, 2024 2:23 p.m.

This post was updated April 21 at 9:55 p.m.

All NCAA men’s volleyball champions between 2012-2022 won back-to-back titles.

And the Bruins are three games away from joining the roster.

Despite falling 3-2 in the MPSF finals to Grand Canyon, UCLA men’s volleyball (23-5, 11-1) earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Touting the best KPI, strength of schedule, record against top-10 teams among other metrics, the Bruins claimed the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for the second straight season.

Before falling to the Lopes, the Bruins were unbeaten in 12 matches – a stretch in which they dropped just eight sets. Coach John Speraw’s unit has won two sets in all but one match this season, maintaining a firm group on the nation’s leading RPI for the majority of the season.

With this seeding, UCLA will commence its tournament run in the first round – a changeup from previous tournament bracket arrangements where the No. 1 seed was given a first-round bye and quarterfinal bye, entering the tournament at the semifinal stage.

UCLA will face off against No. 8 seed Fort Valley State on April 30 to begin its pursuit for a back-to-back national title. The Bruins faced the Wildcats in their first match of the season, claiming the game handily 3-0.

No. 4 seed UC Irvine joined UCLA as the other at-large bid in the tournament. The remaining faces include No. 6 seed Ohio State and No. 3 seed Grand Canyon – both of which triumphed against UCLA this season, the latter achieving the feat in the conference finale. No. 2 seed Long Beach State may serve as UCLA’s greatest foe – the Beach handed the Bruins one of their fives losses on the season, the only game in which Speraw’s squad failed to win more than one set.

“The team is 100% capable of winning the national championship, and there are a number of these players who have been out on the court and have had that experience,” Speraw said. “It (the No. 1 seed) is an advantage for us, so I’m excited to get a chance to go out there and do it again.”

The Bruins will enter the 2024 national tournament following a 2023 season that featured a sweep of MPSF contention, and a conference and national title.

This year, UCLA will begin its journey for the program’s 21st national championship April 30 in Long Beach, California.

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Connor Dullinger
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