This week, the top-ranked and unbeaten UCLA men's volleyball team faces its stiffest challenge of the season. After hosting ninth ranked Loyola of Chicago on Mar. 3, the Bruins entertain third ranked BYU Mar. 6 & 7. All matches will begin at 7 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion.
Former three-time UCLA All-American and double Olympic medalist Doug Partie (1981-84) will have his jersey (No.20) retired in pre-match ceremonies on Mar. 7. As a middle blocker for the Bruins Partie started on four consecutive NCAA championship teams and played on the Bruins' 1984 team that posted a 38-0 record, the last undefeated team in NCAA men's volleyball history.
The Bruins, 15-0 overall and 10-0 in league play won twice last week, defeating MPSF Pacific Division foe UC Irvine, 3-0 on Feb. 26 and beating 10th ranked Lewis University, 3-1 on Feb. 28.
Against the Anteaters, the Bruins were led by 15 kills each from sophomore Adam Naeve and freshman Mark Williams. Sophomore setter Brandon Taliaferro dug 15 balls, hit .857 (6-0-7) and added 45 set assists. The games scores were 15-5, 15-7, 15-6.
Last Saturday against Lewis, the Bruins lost a game, but won the match, 15-8, 15-4, 14-16, 15-4. The Flyers, one of just three teams this season to capture a game from the Bruins, got a match high 35 kills from junior Victor Rivera and 22 kills from junior Ryan McNeil. In Game 3, the Flyers took an 11-5 lead only to watch the Bruins rally and tie the score at 14-14 after fighting off 11 game points. A wide kill attempt by UCLA gave Lewis the game. Naeve led the Bruins with a double-double of 25 kills and 12 digs. Senior Tom Stillwell and sophomore Evan Thatcher added 17 kills apiece.
The Bruins will meet Loyola of Chicago (11-4) for the first time on Mar. 3. The Ramblers invade Pauley Pavilion boasting victories over Eastern powers Penn State, Rutgers and George Mason and regional rival Lewis.
In BYU (6-2, 6-2), UCLA will face the league's top blocking team at over nine blocks per game. Preseason No.1 favorites, the Cougars dropped to third nationally when they were swept Feb. 5 and 7 at Pepperdine.
UCLA VB QUICK FACTS Upcoming Matches* Mar. 3 UCLA vs. Loyola (Chicago), 7 p.m. Feb. 6 UCLA vs. BYU, 7 p.m. Mar. 7 UCLA vs. BYU, 7 p.m. *All match times PST in Pauley Pavilion Recent Results Feb. 26 UCLA d. UCI, 3-0 Feb. 28 UCLA d. Lewis, 3-1 Probable Starters: #3 Brandon Tailaferro, 6-5, So., S, San Clemente, CA (1.1kpg, 15.5apg, 1.7dpg, 0.7bpg) #14 Fred Robins, 6-6, Jr., OH, Waimanalo, HI (2.5kpg, 1.9dpg, 0.3bpg) #5 Mark Williams, 6-7, Fr., OH, Los Angeles, CA (3.0kpg, 1.7dpg, 0.3bpg) #17 Tom Stillwell, 6-8, Sr., Q, Northridge, CA (3.5kpg, 1.5dpg, 1.1bpg) #18 Adam Naeve, 6-10, So., Q, Westchester, CA (5.2kpg, 1.5dpg, 1.1bpg) #20 Ben Moselle, 6-4, Sr., OH/Op, Encinitas, CA (3.1kpg, 1.7dpg, 0.7bpg) OR #9 Evan Thatcher, 6-8, So., Op, Encinitas, CA (3.8kpg, 1.5dpg, 0.7bpg) Substitutions: #15 Danny Farmer, 6-4, Jr., Q, Los Angeles, CA (3.5kpg, 1.3dpg, 0.9bpg) #19 Charlie Jackson, 6-0, Sr., S, Poway, CA (0.3dpg)