MVB Falls in Five in NCAA Semifinals
The UCLA men's volleyball team (22-5) saw its season come to a close in a five-set decision at the hands of top-seeded Long Beach State (21-5) in a Men's National Collegiate Volleyball semifinal contest on Thursday night in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom. Scores of the contest were 25-18, 25-18, 15-25, 10-25, 14-16 in favor of the Beach.
The Beach hit a Bruin opponent season-best of .412 in their win while holding UCLA to a .288 mark which was first time the Bruins had registered a mark below .300 since a February loss at Long Beach. Ethan Champlin led the way for UCLA with 13 kills and three aces. Alex Knight added 10 kills and 8 digs. Merrick McHenry totaled 8 kills while hitting .700. Long Beach which hit just .225 in the first two sets turned around to swing at a .543 percentage over the last three frames. The Bruins had nine attack errors in the final two sets while hitting a combined .152 down the stretch. Beach fired off all seven of its aces in the final three sets of the match. UCLA recorded all six of its aces in the first two sets.
In set one, Champlin's ace helped stake UCLA to a 7-4 edge. A block by Kevin Kobrine/Knight/McHenry lifted the Bruins into a 15-11 lead. Knight's swing put the margin at 18-14. Champlin's kill left UCLA in charge by 21-15. McHenry's attack gave UCLA set point at 24-17 and Champlin delivered the set with a kill. The Bruins hit .400 for the set and posted a 94% sideout rate.
Miles Partain's kill moved UCLA out to a 7-3 advantage to begin set two. Beach closed to 10-8, but a Kobrine ace pushed UCLA back up by four at 13-9. Another Champlin ace gave the Bruins a 20-15 lead. McHenry's kill made it 24-17 and Knight followed with a kill for a 25-18 win.
The tables were flipped in set three as Long Beach stormed out to a 1-5 lead to begin the frame. UCLA called timeout down 4-10. A Kobrine kill made it 8-14. UCLA trailed 11-18 after a spike by Knight. McHenry's kill made it 14-23 and Beach closed out the set at 15-25. Long Beach hit .591 for the set.
In set four, Beach quickly moved out to a 3-7 advantage. The Bruins called a timeout at 6-14 but could not slow down the Beach attack. Long Beach forced a fifth set after a 10-25 win. Beach hit .647 for the frame with 11 kills and no errors on 17 swings. The Bruins checked in at -.118 for the set with seven attack errors.
Set five was a tightly contested affair with 11 ties. UCLA took advantage of a bad set and a Champlin kill for a 7-5 lead. McHenry's kill had the Bruins up 8-6. The Beach rallied to even the score at 9-all. J.R. Norris IV connected for a kill to put UCLA up 10-9. UCLA then took a 13-12 edge following a Beach service error. Long Beach tallied the next two points to go ahead 13-14. Another Beach service error evened the score at 14. A Long Beach kill and an ace finished off the set and the match at 14-16.
Long Beach advances to play in Saturday's championship match to be held at 5 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom.