Despite a comeback in the third set, the Bruins failed to catch up to Utah in their fourth four-set loss this season.
UCLA women’s volleyball (6-6, 0-3 Pac-12) dropped a four-set match to Utah (9-5, 2-1) on Friday night at Pauley Pavilion. Despite the loss, the Bruins outpaced the Utes in overall hitting percentage and saw two players achieve double-doubles.
An early streak of attack and service errors from the Bruins in the first set gave Utah a 20-14 lead, but a 6-0 run from the Bruins managed to tie the score at 20-20. However, two consecutive kills from Utah left UCLA unable to catch up, and the set finished with a two-point difference, 23-25.
With graduate student Matti McKissock out – the setter has played in 38 sets this season and started all 11 other matches – the team had to adapt to new roles, said coach Michael Sealy.
“With different setters setting ball, there’s always going to be a different rhythm,” Sealy said. “I thought everyone did a good job of just working on the rhythm.”
The second set saw the Utes pull away from a 4-4 tie with another 6-0 run, a lead that the Bruins could not match. The blue and gold dropped set two 25-18.
After sophomore outside hitter/opposite Charitie Luper kicked off the third set with a kill, the blue and gold defended its early lead to clinch the lowest-scoring set of the match 25-14. During the same set, a series of long rallies and two consecutive blocks from graduate outside hitter/opposite élan McCall left the Bruins up 16-12.
McCall got 10 kills and 11 digs in the match for her 26th career double double.
“I liked the way they came back in set three after such a disappointing set two, for them to come back and kind of reengage and refocus and go battle,” Sealy said. “I was really happy with that.”
The third set also saw freshman setter Mokihana Tufono – who made her her first career start this game – perform 11 successful assists.
Tufono said she hopes to continue to build her stamina for the remainder of the season.
“Personally, I did a good job at trying my best to distribute the ball,” Tufono said. “I just got to be better longer, for sure. I think that’s our whole theme this year … being better longer.”
After a 5-0 run allowed the Utes to reach 10-4 in the fourth set, the teams traded points for the majority of the set and left Utah leading UCLA with a more than four point difference until 23-15. Three consecutive attack errors by Utah failed to even the gap, with the Utes claiming the final set victory 25-19.
Tufono said the team managed to stay positive in the face of its loss.
“One thing that we talked about was controlling our effort and our attitude,” she said. “It was just the execution part that we’re working through, but I think, overall, everyone was laser-focused, and we did a good job at keeping good spirits when times are tough.”
UCLA will next take on Colorado on Sunday at 12 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion.