MVB Goes the Distance to Take Down Trojans
The No. 1 UCLA men's volleyball team (17-3, 7-1) came from behind to down No. 5 USC (17-6, 4-4) in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) contest held on Saturday evening before a crowd of over 4,000 fans in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom. Scores of the match were 23-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-12, 15-12.
The Bruins survived 34 service errors by outhitting USC .384 to .150. Ethan Champlin, with 16 kills, and Kevin Kobrine, with 12, paced the UCLA attack. It was Kobrine's fifth straight MPSF match in double-digit kills. Champlin added an ace against the Trojans to record a point from the line for the 13th time in the last 14 matches and seventh in a row. Merrick McHenry added nine kills and hit over .500 (.571) for the 14th match this season. The Bruins have four MPSF matches to play – three on the road: at Pepperdine and at BYU (2) – and one at home against the second-place Waves (5-3).
Champlin's ace evened the score at 4-all in the early going of set one. USC then jumped out to a 5-9 lead. The Bruins sliced the deficit to 9-10 after a Miles Partain swing. A Champlin kill made it 12-13. The Trojans increased the gap to 14-17. UCLA pulled even behind the serve of Kyle Vom Steeg and kills from Champlin and Miles Partain. Kills by Kobrine and McHenry tied the score at 20 and 21-all. The Trojans tallied the next two points for 21-23. A Kobrine kill narrowed the deficit to 23-24. The 10th Bruin service error of the set handed USC set point and a 23-25 win.
UCLA took a 5-3 lead on Kobrine's kill to begin set two. The Trojans tied the score at 8-all. An Alex Knight kill and a USC error put UCLA in front 13-11. Kills by Kobrine and Guy Genis upped the margin to 15-12. A block by Partain, Champlin and Genis along with a couple of Trojan attack errors grew the lead to 18-13. McHenry's swing out of the middle made it 21-15. Vom Steeg's ace left UCLA up 23-17. A Genis kill and a Trojan service error ended the set at 25-19 for the Bruins. UCLA hit .619 for the frame to -.053 for USC.
USC opened up a 3-8 margin to start set three. A series of Bruin errors increased the deficit to 8-16. An Ido David smash made it 11-19. A swing by Miles Partain left UCLA down 13-21. A couple more David kills sliced the gap to 17-24, but the Trojans prevailed on a Bruin service error for a 17-25 win. UCLA hit .095 for the set.
Champlin's cross court heater and a Kobrine block lifted UCLA into a 7-4 advantage in set four. The Bruins added on a McHenry kill and a Trojan error for two more points and a 9-4 edge. Champlin's serve helped the Bruins up the difference to 13-5. A Grant Sloane kill put UCLA in charge by 10, at 17-7. Champlin's kill found the floor to double up the Trojans at 22-11. A McHenry kill ended the set at 25-12. UCLA hit .636 for the frame to -.077 for USC.
After UCLA owned the early 4-2 lead, the Trojans rallied to score three straight. A Genis kill and a Trojan error put UCLA back up 7-5. After Champlin's attack hit the line the Bruins went in front 8-6 at the break. Kills from Kobrine and Sloane made it 11-9 and then 13-11 for the Bruins. Miles Partain's kill put UCLA at set and match point, 14-12. Champlin followed up with the match-winner for a 15-12 victory.
UCLA returns to the court on Thursday to meet No. 8 Pepperdine, which currently sits in second-place in the MPSF with a 5-3 record, in Malibu. The Waves will then come to Westwood on Saturday for a 6 p.m. battle.