Next Up — The ninth-ranked UCLA men's volleyball team (18-10, 15-9) begins play in the MPSF Tournament on Saturday night at fifth-ranked UC Santa Barbara (17-8, 16-8) in a quarterfinal match beginning at 7 p.m. The teams split a pair of matches earlier this season, with each team winning a 3-0 decision on its home court. UCSB is hosting a playoff match for the first time since 2007, when it also hosted the Bruins in a 1-3 Gauchos win.
Live Coverage — Audio Webcast: www.uclabruins.com. LiveStats: http://ucsbgauchos.com/livestats/landing. Fans may also follow the matches on UCLA's live Twitter feed @UCLAMensVB.
Scouting the Opponent — UCSB closed the regular season with wins over Cal Baptist (3-0) and BYU. It clinched the fourth seed into the MPSF Tournament last Friday night in a 3-1 win over BYU. The Gauchos own a 12-2 home record.
A Look Back — The Bruins, seeded fifth in the tournament, captured the first meeting of the season in Pauley on Jan. 21 (25-12, 25-22, 29-27). Robart Page led UCLA with 15 kills and Gonzalo Quiroga added 11. UCLA outhit the Gauchos .337 to .092 in the contest. In match two in Santa Barbara on Mar. 5, UCSB outhit the Bruins .429 to .269 in a 20-25, 19-25, 20-25 decision. Quiroga was the lone Bruin in double digit kills with 12. Three current starters -- opposite Spencer Rowe, middle Trent Kersten, setter Steve O'Dell -- sat out that match due to injury. UCLA won last season's contest at UCSB 3-1 on Jan. 18, 2013. Last season, UCLA defeated Pepperdine in an MPSF Quarterfinal in Pauley (3-0) and lost in the semifinals at BYU (2-3).
Recapping Previous Action — Gonzalo Quiroga and Mitch Stahl had six aces each out of a school record-tying 14 served up by the Bruins in a 3-1 win (25-23, 23-25, 25-13, 25-20) over BYU on Apr. 12. ***Spencer Rowe and Quiroga each put down 12 kills in a 3-0 win over Cal Baptist on Apr. 10 in Pauley (25-20, 25-12, 25-23). The Bruins posted a season-high .522 hitting percentage in the contest.***Robart Page (21 kills), Rowe (19) and Quiroga (17) provided a three-pronged attack in the win at Long Beach State (23-25, 26-24, 26-24, 18-25, 15-13). Rowe had a career-high 24 kills in a five-set loss at Cal State Northridge (22-25, 25-19, 26-28, 25-16, 21-23) on Apr. 3. Steve O'Dell added career-highs in digs (9) and blocks (6). Trent Kersten had four blocks and a career-high seven digs.***Rowe collected19 kills in a (25-22, 22-25, 26-28, 21-25) loss at BYU on Mar. 29. O'Dell had 52 set assists and four blocks. The Bruins were outblocked by the Cougars 13.5 to 6.5 on the night.
All-MPSF Honors — Gonzalo Quiroga was named first-team All-MPSF. Second-team All-MPSF Honors went to Robart Page and Spencer Rowe. Mitch Stahl and Jackson Bantle were listed on the All-MPSF Freshman team.
Coach Speraw: Year Two at UCLA — John Speraw (UCLA '95) is in his second season as the head coach at his alma mater. In year one, the Bruins went 21-11 and advanced to the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament. In 10 seasons at UC Irvine, Speraw led the Anteaters to three NCAA championships (2007, 2009, 2012), and a 199-106 (.646) overall record. On Mar. 25, 2013, he was named head coach of the U.S. Men's National Team for the next quadrennial ending at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero. In the summer of 2012, he had served as an assistant coach for the USA Men's National Team, which advanced to the quarterfinals of the London Olympics. Speraw earned AVCA National Coach of the Year in 2006 and was given the USA Olympic Committee's National Coach of the Year award in 2007.
In the MPSF: April 19--#8 seed USC at #1 BYU; #6 UC Irvine at #3 Stanford; #7 Long Beach State at #2 Pepperdine. All matches start at 7 p.m. local time. For MPSF updates go to mpsports.org. Semifinals and final will be hosted by highest remaining seed on Apr. 24 and 26.
NCAA Championship Format Change — Four conferences have automatic qualification for the 2014 championship --- Conference Carolinas, Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Assoc., Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Assoc. and the MPSF. Two additional at-large teams will also be selected on Apr. 27. Play-in games will be contested among the four lowest seeded teams with the winners advancing to play the two top- seeded teams. Play-in matches will be held on April 29 in Chicago, IL. The national semifinals are set for May 1, with the championship match (ESPNU) on May 3 at Loyola-Chicago.
Trending Numbers — UCLA broke a three-way tie for fifth place by owning a 3-1 match record v. Long Beach and UC I this season ... The Bruins began the week third in the MPSF listings in hitting % (.311) and second in service aces/set 1.42 ... UCLA has served an MPSF high of 151 aces this season, led by Gonzalo Quiroga's MPSF leading 56 ... The Bruins hit a season-best .522 v. Cal Baptist (4/10) ... The team tied the school record with 14 aces v. BYU (4/12) ... Quiroga and Mitch Stahl each had six aces vs. Cougars ... Quiroga tops the MPSF with his 0.53 service aces/set average, a mark which is flirting with Mark Williams' (2001) school record of 0.51 ... Quiroga has double-digit kills in 26 of the 28 matches this season ... He has at least three service aces in nine matches this season (last time, six v. BYU on Apr. 12) ... Robart Page has double-digit kills in 22 matches and has gone over the 20-kill mark a team-high four times this season ... Page ended the regular season ranked seventh in the MPSF in kills per set (3.79), a mark which would rank among the top 10 in school history in the rally scoring era (2001-present) ... Quiroga was ninth in the MPSF (3.71) ... Page is sixth in points per set (4.35); Quiroga is fourth (4.54) ... Spencer Rowe had a then career-best 19 kills at BYU (Mar. 29) and went on to top that performance with a 24-kill effort while hitting .525 at CSUN on Apr. 3 ... Setter Steve O'Dell has returned to the active list (starting last six matches), after missing 15 contests due to injury, and had career bests in digs (9) and blocks (6) at CSUN ... The nine-match winning streak earlier this season, snapped at Pepperdine, was the team's longest under coach Speraw ... The Bruins had an eight-match home win streak stopped by Long Beach on Feb. 12 ... UCLA's 9-1 overall start was its best since the 2012 squad opened by winning 12 of its first 13 matches (10 in a row overall and the first seven MPSF matches), the lone loss was to UCI, then coached by Speraw.
Career /Season Stat Check: Quiroga has taken over the top spot on the school career list for service aces (194), moving past Adam Naeve, 1997-01 (178) ... With 1,369 career kills, he is closing in on 6th place on the all-time school list held by Trevor Schirman, 1987-90 (1,374) ...Quiroga has 617 career digs, right behind 9th place holder Matt Sonnichsen, 1986-89 (618) ... Quiroga's 56 aces ties for 3rd (Mark Williams-63 in 2000 is 1st) on all-time season list and is tied for first with Naeve on all-time rally scoring (2001-present) list.
Last Three Matches — Block leaders in the last three matches: Trent Kersten (11),Gonzalo Quiroga (9), Robart Page (7), Spencer Rowe (7) ... Kills Leaders in last three: Quiroga (43), Rowe (41), Page (39), Stahl (21) ... Ace Leaders in last three: Quiroga (9), Stahl (7), Page (2), O'Dell (2) ... Dig Leaders in last three: Jackson Bantle (33), Rowe (21), Quiroga (19), Page (16).