LOS ANGELES - The top-ranked UCLA men's volleyball team won its sixth straight MPSF Mountain Division title by defeating UC Irvine 3-1 Tuesday, earning the No.1 seed and home court advantage in the upcoming MPSF Tournament.
The Bruins, 24-3 overall and 17-2 in league play, host the Loyola Marymount Lions, 8-11, 8-12, in the first round of the single elimination, eight-team conference tournament Sat., Apr. 18 at 7 p.m. in the John Wooden Center.
Although the Lions were defeated by Pepperdine 3-1 at home Tuesday, they earned one of the league's two at-large berths and will participate in the conference tournament for the first time. History is not on LMU's side: UCLA own a 55-match winning streak against the Lions, including a 3-1 victory in Pauley Pavilion Apr. 7.
Against the Anteaters, four Bruins hit for double-figure kills, led by junior Evan Thatcher's career high 25. Sophomore Adam Naeve added 20 kills and senior Tom Stillwell contributed 14 kills and seven blocks.
Last Friday, the Bruins won a crucial match against third ranked Pepperdine to secure the MPSF's top seed. The Bruins won 9-15, 15-10, 15-9, 15-5 paced by 20 kills apiece from Thatcher and Naeve. Juniors Fred Robins and Danny Farmer each pounded 10 kills; Robins dug 11 balls and Farmer blocked two. The Bruins also served a season high 11 aces to the Waves' zero.
For his efforts, which also included the Bruins' victory over LMU Apr. 7, setter Brandon Taliaferro was named AVCA national Player of the Week. In the two matches he totaled 141 assists, 23 digs, 14 kills, 14 blocks, seven aces and .600 hitting percentage. In Friday's match against the Waves he tallied his first career triple-double: 71 assists, 13 digs, 11 kills, six blocks and five aces.
As the top seed in the MPSF Tournament, the Bruins will host the semifinals and finals of the MPSF Tournament in Pauley Pavilion if they win Saturday's match. The league tournament semifinals are scheduled for Thurs., Apr. 23 at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. with the championship scheduled for Sat., Apr. 25 at 7 p.m.
UCLA VB QUICK FACTS
Upcoming Matches* Apr. 18 UCLA vs. LMU, 7 p.m. Apr. 23 MPSF Semifinals Apr. 25 MPSF Finals *All match times Pacific.
Recent Results Apr. 7 UCLA d. LMU, 3-1 Apr. 10 UCLA d. Pepperdine, 3-1
Probable Starters: #3 Brandon Tailaferro, 6-5, So., S, San Clemente, CA (1.1kpg, 17.1apg, 1.8dpg, 0.9bpg) #14 Fred Robins, 6-6, Jr., OH, Waimanalo, HI (2.5kpg, 2.5dpg, 0.5bpg) #5 Mark Williams, 6-7, Fr., OH, Los Angeles, CA (3.1kpg, 2.1dpg, 0.6bpg) #17 Tom Stillwell, 6-8, Sr., Q, Northridge, CA (3.6kpg, 1.6dpg, 1.4bpg) #18 Adam Naeve, 6-10, So., Q, Westchester, CA (5.4kpg, 1.6dpg, 1.2bpg) #20 Ben Moselle, 6-4, Sr., OH/Op, Encinitas, CA (3.6kpg, 1.9dpg, 0.6bpg) OR #9 Evan Thatcher, 6-8, So., Op, Encinitas, CA (4.2kpg, 1.6dpg, 0.8bpg) Substitutions: #15 Danny Farmer, 6-4, Jr., Q, Los Angeles, CA (3.5kpg, 1.2dpg, 0.7bpg) #19 Charlie Jackson, 6-0, Sr., S, Poway, CA (0.3dpg)