Jan. 3, 2008
Third-ranked UCLA began its quest for an unprecedented 20th NCAA men's volleyball championship with a four-game victory over unranked Ball State Thursday night in the opening match of the 14th Outrigger Hotels Invitational.
The Bruins won 30-23, 30-27, 26-30, 30-22 in 127 minutes at the Stan Sheriff Center on the University of Hawaii campus.
UCLA began the match with a methodical seven-point victory in Game 1, hitting .300 and recording 15 kills and three aces. Ahead 7-6, the Bruins went on a 7-1 spurt, courtesy of an ace by sophomore Dylan Bowermaster and a pair of kills by setter Matt Wade.
In Game 2, the Bruins rallied from a 13-10 deficit to force four ties. At 20-20, UCLA got a pair of aces from junior D.J. Stromath, which forced BSU to call a timeout. The Bruins held a 27-22 lead before a 5-2 run by Ball State forced Head Coach Al Scates to call a UCLA timeout at game point. BSU's Marcus Inwalle served into the net to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
The Bruins held just three leads in Game 3 all of them prior to the 15th point. Ball State rolled to a 21-16 lead and the Bruins never got closer than two points at 23-25. UCLA scored three straight points to cut the lead to 29-26, but Ryan Ratelle's service error gave the Cardinals the game.
In Game 4, the Bruins broke from a 2-2 tie and surged to a 15-8 lead at the first media timeout. That difference never dwindled as the Bruins hit .367 for the game with a match-high of 17 kills.
For the match, UCLA hit .286 with 60 total kills, five aces and 9.5 team blocks. Ball State out-blocked the Bruins with 10 for the match, but recorded just 49 kills and a hitting percentage of .205.
UCLA's Garrett Muagututia led all players with 21 kills, two aces and a pair of block assists for 24 points. Junior Jamie Diefenbach added 10 kills (.562), two aces and four total blocks for 15.5 points. Junior Sean O'Malley pounded 11 kills (.364) in relief of sophomore Brett Perrine. Tony Ker led all players with 18 digs and passed without an error as did Muagututia.
Imwalle led the Cardinals with 17 kills (.387).
UCLA meets fourth-ranked Penn State Friday night at 4 p.m. (HST).