UCLA Rallies to Beat the Beach in Five
March 13, 2013
Fifth-ranked UCLA erased an 0-2 sets deficit to upset No. 3 Long Beach State on the road Wednesday night in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men's volleyball competition.
The Bruins (14-9, 10-7) won their third straight match and avenged a stinging four-set loss to the 49ers in January. Set scores were 21-25, 21-25, 25-19, 26-24, 15-10 in two hours and 20 minutes before 877 at the Walter Pyramid. The Bruins also won for the first time on the 49ers' home court since 2008 and just the fourth time in 15 matches since the building opened. Long Beach State fell to 14-6, 12-5.
The Bruins are now in sole possession of fifth place in the MPSF race, one half match behind Pepperdine and two matches ahead of CS Northridge, which lost 0-3 at UC Santa Barbara earlier in the evening. UCLA plays at CS Northridge on Friday night.
Additionally, in a dozen five-set matches this season, the Bruins have won seven, although the victory against the 49ers was their first to go the distance in a month.
Several clutch performances defined this victory for the Bruins, beginning with junior outside hitter Dane Worley who smashed a career-high of 26 kills, including six in the final set.
After recording just two kills through two sets, junior Gonzalo Quiroga finished with 16 kills and a team-leading nine digs.
Freshman Trent Kersten came off the bench to record five kills and a career-best four total blocks as the Bruins limited The Beach to an attack percentage of .237 for the match, despite the hosts' .429 hitting percentage in the first set.
Perhaps the most significant clutch performance came from junior setter Connor Bannan, who entered the match in relief of freshman Steve O'Dell after the latter left the match in Set 4 with a twisted ankle. Bannan recorded 20 assists.
And as a team, the Bruins overcame their own shortcomings in the match to record a .650 attack percentage (13-0-20) and zero service errors in the final set. Through four sets, they had committed 19 service errors with no aces.
The match itself bent in the Bruins' favor in Set 4 when, after the 49ers rallied from a 19-22 deficit to move ahead 23-22, the visitors scored four of the next five points to force a fifth set. In the stretch run, Quiroga smacked a kill from the back row, Clayton Paullin recorded at kill and Worley came through with a pair of kills to ice the set.
"We're not thinking about our playoff seeding," said Head Coach John Speraw. "We're just thinking about [getting] the next win. To win this week, with finals coming up, is huge."
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