MVB Wins 20th Match of Season
The No. 1 UCLA men's volleyball team (20-3, 10-1) captured win number 20 on the season with a four-set victory at BYU (8-15, 3-8) in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) contest played at Provo, Utah before a crowd of almost 4,000 fans on Friday night. Scores of the match were 20-25, 25-23, 25-16, 25-18.
UCLA reached the 20-win level for the first time since the 2018 season when it achieved a 26-8 record and advanced to the NCAA Championship match. Ido David came off the bench to lead the way against the Cougars with 18 kills and three aces. UCLA hit .350 for the match which is its 14th straight contest hitting at least .300. BYU hit .126 to mark the eighth straight Bruin opponent to record less than a .200 percentage. Alex Knight helped the Bruins enjoy an 11.5 to 4.5 team blocks lead by contributing a career-high six block assists to go with a block solo. Merrick McHenry, who totaled one block solo and five block assists, added 8 kills while hitting .583 which was the 16th match this season in which he has hit at least .500.
BYU started strong and jumped out to a 3-8 edge to begin set one. After the Cougars upped their advantage to 6-12, UCLA closed to 10-13 following kills from Knight, Miles Partain and Ethan Champlin. The home team responded to go back up 11-16. A Guy Genis swing sliced the margin to 14-18. David's kill made it 16-20. Champlin's spike left UCLA down 18-22, but BYU was able to hang on for a 20-25 win after hitting .370 for the set.
After BYU established an early 3-6 lead to start set two, UCLA responded with four of the next five points to even the score at 7-all. A block by McHenry/Knight put the Bruins up 10-9. David's back-to-back kills extended the cushion to 13-10. Genis' swing put UCLA up 15-12 before a Cougar rally leveled the score at 17-all. McHenry and David answered with kills to push UCLA back in front 19-17. A solo block by Knight expanded the gap to 22-18. David's eighth kill of the frame won the set for the Bruins at 25-23.
With the score tied at 8-all in set three, UCLA ran off 11 of the next 12 points behind the serves of Miles Partain and Champlin to go up 19-9. The Cougars battled back to record six straight points to narrow the gap to 19-15. Blocks by Knight/McHenry and then Knight/McHenry/Partain were followed by a David kill for a 25-16 UCLA win.
UCLA ran out to a 7-4 lead to begin set four. After BYU narrowed the gap to 9-8, the Bruins won four of the next five points to grow the difference to 13-9. An ace from David and two straight kills by McHenry helped increase the margin to 17-10. BYU rallied to close to 18-14. Kills from Knight and David made it 21-16. McHenry's swing ended the set at 25-18 for the Bruin win. UCLA hit .700 for the frame with no errors on 20 swings.
The Bruins and Cougars will battle again on Saturday night in the final regular season match of the year. UCLA will return home next week to host the MPSF Tournament beginning on Wednesday with the quarterfinal round in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom. UCLA, as the tournament's top seed, will receive a bye into the semifinals and play its first match on Thursday at 4 p.m.
MPSF Standings (after matches of 4/15)
Grand Canyon 6-5
MPSF Quarterfinals: Wednesday, April 20
No. 1 Seed UCLA---Bye
No. 2 Seed vs. No. 7 Seed Concordia---2:00 pm
No. 3 Seed vs. No. 6 Seed BYU---5:00 pm
No. 4 Seed vs. No. 5 Seed Stanford---8:00 pm
MPSF Semifinals: Thursday, April 21
Lowest Remaining Seed at 1 Seed UCLA---4:00 pm
Highest-Seeded Quarterfinal Winners---7:00 pm
MPSF Championship: Saturday, April 23
Semifinal Winners---6:00 pm
all matches will be played in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom