No. 15 Utah Volleyball Falls To No. 16 UCLA
LOS ANGELES – After struggling to catch momentum all match, No. 15 Utah volleyball dropped its road contest at No. 16 UCLA on Sunday afternoon, falling in three sets (23-25, 14-25, 18-25) in Pauley Pavilion. Utah moves to 11-4 overall this season and drops to 4-2 in Pac-12 play, while UCLA improved to 12-2 overall and 5-1 in conference action.
Utah started the day going back and forth with UCLA until the Bruins rattled off six points in a row to jump out to an 18-11 lead. Dani Drews earned a much-needed kill to stop the run, but another spurt of points from UCLA extended the lead to 21-13. Although UCLA earned its first set point leading 24-18, the Utes managed to fend off five additional set points from a kill from Zoe Weatherington, a Bruin attack error, and three Drews kills. The late push came up short though as UCLA's Charitie Luper recorded her fifth kill of the frame to win it 25-23 for UCLA.
In the second set, UCLA built out an 8-5 lead, but the Utes went on a 6-2 run following a timeout to take a 12-10 lead. Utah couldn't keep up the pace and shortly after saw the Bruins score nine consecutive points, building a commanding 21-13 lead. Drews earned a Utah sideout with a kill, but the runs continued for UCLA as the home team scored four straight to end the set.
Utah came out of the quick break between sets with a hot start to the third set and grabbed a 9-4 lead – a start which included three blocks from the duo of Dani Drews and Amelia Van Der Werff. Leading 10-6, UCLA's Mac May put down a kill to start what went on to be a 7-2 Bruin run for their first lead of the set. The UCLA runs continued to doom Utah as the set began to wind down, this time with UCLA putting together a run of six out of seven points to stretch the lead to 20-15.
Needing some big plays, another Van Der Werff block followed by a service ace from Kiley McMurtrey cut the lead to just 20-17 as the Utes looked to make another late push. The teams traded points to reach 21-18, but UCLA scored four in a row to end the match.
UCLA led Utah in every statistical category with the exception of blocks, which the two teams tied with eight overall. Drews led the Utes with 16 kills, while Weatherington and Madelyn Robinson each chipped in eight kills. Drews also posted a team-high nine digs, as well as four blocks. Stef Jankiewicz tallied 21 assists and seven digs, while Van Der Werff collected five blocks in just one set of play to lead the net play.
Utah will continue the stretch of road matches with matches at No. 17 Stanford and California. Utah and Stanford will meet Thursday, Oct. 14 at 8:30 p.m. MT in Maples Pavilion. The match will be televised on ESPNU. The Utes will then close out the weekend against Cal on Sunday, Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. MT in Haas Pavilion.