BYU men’s volleyball falls to No. 2 UCLA in pair of humbling three-set matches

BYU wore blue on its faces and jerseys as they left the John Wooden Center Saturday night. The night before, the Cougars lost in a grueling three sets to the second-ranked UCLA. Sadly, Saturday night’s game would yield the same results.

Set One

UCLA boasted talented individuals that quickly were able to shut BYU down through offense on the net and at the service line. Despite the set beginning with a kill from Kupono Browne and a BYU 2-1 lead, UCLA’s outside hitter Alex Knight had back-to-back blocks, temporarily compromising BYU’s offense.

BYU’s Teon Taylor secured a block of his own soon after, tying the set for the first time at 12-12. When UCLA was up 17-13 soon after, BYU Coach Shawn Olmstead took his first time out of the night. The set became a runaway and the set ended 25-17 with a Bruin ace for the set point.

BYU’s offense was low with a hitting percentage of .174. This felt especially low compared to UCLA’s own hitting percentage of .357. Despite the overall low hitting turnover from BYU, Browne was able to secure four kills in the set.

Set Two

Despite more action in the second set, BYU would one again fall to the Californian team. UCLA had three blocks in the set, while BYU boasted zero. The Bruins would also lead on the scoreboard the entire set, despite some impressive individual plays from the Cougars.

One of these came from Gavin Julien when he secured his first kill of the evening at 5-3 with the Bruins up. The Cougars had a three-point run to make it to 17-13 before UCLA took their first time out of the night. Luke Benson earned two kills in the time for the score to reach 20-17 UCLA, but the Cougars would not close the gap any further.

Despite a strategic sub to put Anthony Cherfan in during the second set, the Cougars would take their second set loss at 25-21. However, Cherfan would get four kills in the set, with a percentage of .375. This impressive playing after being subbed in was similar to the hitter’s sub-in in BYU’s game against UC Santa Barbara, and is evidence that the nonstarter has a lot of drive and adrenaline when he is put on the court.

Set Three

Cherfan had BYU’s first kill of the third set after a four-point run from UCLA. Despite this promising 4-1 score, BYU would not change the momentum of the set, and soon UCLA had a six-point lead at 8-2.

Back-and forth but no significant points drive occurred, leaving BYU down eight at 16-8 when Olmstead needed to shake things up. He did so by making another sub to put freshman Trent Moser in the game.

Moser would prove himself with an immediate three kills and a block assist, getting UCLA to take their first timeout of the set at 16-12. Despite this small run by the Cougars, the set would end 25-18, with more impressive UCLA offense that BYU couldn’t pick up.

Overall, BYU’s .311 hitting percentage fell to their competitor’s .481. Anthony Cherfan led BYU in kills after grabbing eight during his time on the court, but the Cougars fell short to UCLA with only two blocks and one ace, compared to the Bruin’s five aces and eight blocks.

Despite these two recorded losses for the Cougars, the team has much to look forward to as they battle Concordia University Irvine later this week, the first game Friday night. As BYU continues to utilize a strong offense both on the court and within its bench, it will provide tough competition to its upcoming opponents.

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