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No. 8 UCLA men’s volleyball swept by No. 3 UC Santa Barbara

Redshirt senior opposite Brandon Rattray had five kills in his first full game for No. 8 UCLA men’s volleyball since the season opener. The Bruins were ultimately swept for the third time in their past five matches. (Joy Hong/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Men's volleyball

No. 3 UCSB3
No. 8 UCLA0

By Jake Greenberg-Bell

Feb. 20, 2020 12:34 a.m.

The Bruins led in all three sets, but couldn’t win a single one.

No. 8 UCLA men’s volleyball (7-6, 2-2 MPSF) was defeated by No. 3 UC Santa Barbara (9-2, 0-0 Big West) in straight sets Wednesday night in the John Wooden Center by scores of 25-23, 25-22, 25-18.

In a game where the Bruins led by at least three points in the second and third sets, the team ended up losing to the Gauchos for the Bruins’ sixth loss of the season and fifth time being swept.

Over the course of the match, UCLA scored 33 total kills compared to UCSB’s 32, but the Bruins committed six more service errors, some of which came at crucial points in the set.

In the first set, redshirt junior outside hitter/setter Sam Kobrine committed a service error to give the Gauchos set point at 24-22. Late in the second set, UCLA committed two more service errors to give UCSB a 22-20 and then a 23-21 lead.

“I’ve been worried about our serving the entire year, it’s been medium. We don’t put enough pressure on teams and then we air too much. So it’s like a terrible combination,” said coach John Speraw. “The errors that we had were not guys hitting their best serve. They were literally guys, I don’t know what, tentative, afraid, scared to make a mistake.”

Over the course of the match, UCLA dipped deep into its roster with 14 players seeing action over the course of the match. The total was almost double the eight players who played Sunday against USC.

Senior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah led the team with nine kills and said contributions from players returning from injury were helpful, but the team has still not reached its peak.

“It was nice. It was kinda rusty though,” Gyimah said. “I don’t think we played anywhere close to our full potential, which is unfortunate. I think we’re better than (UCSB) by far, but we haven’t really been able to play to our full potential yet.”

One of the players who returned was redshirt senior opposite Brandon Rattray, who played in more than one set for the first time since Jan. 2 after suffering an ankle injury.

“We’ve been talking a lot about the first eight points of the match. Whoever gets to eight first, usually wins that match,” Rattray said. “The percentages for winning are a lot higher if you can get to eight first, so just really focusing on those first few points of the match and first few points of each set getting ahead and pushing ahead of that team so we can stay on top and ride it all the way through the end.”

The Gauchos beat the Bruins to the eight-point mark in every set Wednesday night. UCSB also outhit UCLA with a percentage of .267 compared to the Bruins’ .169.

After leading 3-0 to start the third set, UCLA would end up going down by as many as nine points. The Bruins closed the gap to six points, but two successful challenges by UCSB coach Rick McLaughlin erased any hopes of a Bruin comeback and secured the sweep.

UCLA will look forward to Friday, when it goes back on the road to take on No. 13 Grand Canyon in a return to conference play.

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Jake Greenberg-Bell | Sports contributor
Greenberg-Bell is currently a Sports contributor on the men's soccer beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's soccer and men's volleyball beats.
Greenberg-Bell is currently a Sports contributor on the men's soccer beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's soccer and men's volleyball beats.
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