UCLA BEGINS ROAD SWING FRIDAY — UCLA, ranked No. 2 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll, will travel to play a non-league contest at Big West Conference opponent CSUN (4-2, Matadors have won four straight matches and host USC on Jan. 25) on Friday. The match is set to be played in Premier America Credit Union Arena at 7 pm The Bruins (6-0) defeated CSUN earlier this season in the UCSB Invitational (25-18, 25-21, 25-18). UCLA out hit CSUN .484 to .086 and enjoyed an 8.0 to 3.0 team blocks margin in that first meeting. UCLA has won the past three meetings with CSUN with the last Matador win coming in the 2019 campaign.
Next week, the Bruins will Trek East to play at George Mason (site of this year’s NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship) on Jan. 31 at 4 p.m. PT. UCLA will then travel to University Park, Pa. to play Ohio State (Feb. 3) and Penn State (Feb. 4) in the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge. The Bruins return home on Thursday, Feb. 9 to host No. 3 Long Beach State at 8 pm in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom in a match which will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.
First Serve at CSUN (Fri. Jan. 27): 7:00 pm PT
Live Stats: https://gomatadors.com/sidearmstats/mvball/summary
TV/Video: ESPN+ https://www.espn.com/watch/player?id=bd026556-8947-4a79-be79-dc6671710db7
First Serve at George Mason (Thu. Jan. 31) 4:00 pm PT
Live Stats: https://gomason.com/sidearmstats/mvball/summary
UCLA AND RANKINGS — UCLA remained at No. 2 in this week’s AVCA Poll. The Bruins earned the No. 2 spot in the pre-season AVCA poll for the fourth time in the past five seasons. Eleven of the AVCA’s Top 15-ranked teams in the pre-season poll appear on the Bruins’ schedule for 2023 and will meet UCLA for a total of 19 matches this season. UCLA has now been ranked as high as No. 2 in the AVCA poll at some point in 7 of the last 8 seasons (not in 2021). The Bruins finished the 2022 season listed fourth in the final AVCA poll after being as high as No. 1 for nine weeks during the year … … UCLA has ended a season ranked No. 1 in the AVCA poll a record nine times (1987, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2006) over the years.
NCAA RANKING NOTES — UCLA is ranked 5th in the Nation with an average of 2.42 aces per set which is helped by a school-record tying 18 aces by the Bruins against UCSD. The Bruins are also in the top 10 nationally in blocks (4th-2.63), hitting percentage (4th .385), digs (4th 9.11) and opponent hitting percentage (3rd .138). Middle Blocker Merrick McHenry is 15th in the Nation with a .415 hitting percentage. Middle Blocker Guy Genis rates eighth nationally in blocks per set (1.3). Setter Andrew Rowan is tied for 17th in the NCAA in aces per set (0.56). Sweeper Troy Gooch is 17th in digs per set (2.16).
MPSF — The Bruins begin MPSF play by hosting No. 12 BYU on Feb. 17 and 18. The MPSF Tournament champ receives the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship Tournament. Ethan Champlin was the first 2023 Winner of the MPSF Offensive Player of the Week honors (1/9) after his performance in the UCSB Tournament. UCLA, which finished atop the 2022 MPSF standings with an 11-1 record, is picked to repeat by the coaches in 2023. The 2023 Pre-season MPSF coaches poll: 1-UCLA, 2-Pepperdine, 3-Stanford, T4-Grand Canyon, T4-USC, 6-BYU, 7-Concordia, Irvine. This year’s MPSF post-season Tournament will be held at Stanford as the location will rotate among the league schools going forward. Returners Miles Partain, Ethan Champlin and Merrick McHenry each earned first-team 2022 All-MPSF honors. Guy Genis was the 2022 MPSF Freshman of the Year and a second-team selection. Ido David earned Honorable mention. Grant Sloane joined Genis and David on the 2022 MPSF All-Freshman Team.
HOME SCHEDULE — UCLA will host upcoming matchups against ranked opponents this season versus No. 3 Long Beach State (Feb. 9), No. 6 UC Irvine (Feb. 26), No. 10 USC (Apr. 6) and No. 5 Pepperdine (Apr. 15).
PLAYER/COACH NOTES — Coach John Speraw will take aim at milestone wins at No. 200 at UCLA (186-90 Entering 2023) and No. 400 overall (385-201 Entering 2023) this season … UCLA added two new Assistant coaches during the off-season, both former Bruin players, in Nick Vogel (2009-12) and Brandon Taliaferro (1997-2000) … Returners JR Norris IV, Ethan Champlin and Merrick McHenry each earned Bronze medals as members of the US Men’s National Team at the 2022 Pan American Cup Final Six in Mexico this past off-season … Newcomers Andrew Rowan (MVP, Best Setter, Best Server) and Zach Rama (Best Attacker) helped the US win gold at the 2022 U21 Pan American Cup held in Cuba in October.