Bruins Earn Sweep of BYU in Scates' Final Home Match
April 7, 2012
Los Angeles, Calif. - With hundreds of his former players and coaches and a capacity crowd of over 1,800 looking on, legendary head coach Al Scates coached his final regular season home match on Saturday night and was sent home in style, as the UCLA Bruins earned a 3-0 sweep of the BYU Cougars at the John Wooden Center.
The Bruins improved to 21-6 and 15-5 in MPSF play while BYU fell to 21-6 on the year and is 17-5 in the conference. The Bruins are currently tied for fourth in the conference but sit just one game behind leaders USC in an extremely tight MPSF race. Set scores were 25-17, 25-19 and 25-17.
The night started out with a little bit of controversy as the Bruins and Cougars played a replay of the fifth set from last night's match with score at 16-16. The replay would prove to be short-lived though, as BYU took the first two points off the Bruins to win the fifth set 18-16 and the match 3-2.
The Bruins had little time to shake off the loss, as they had to turn around and play the regularly scheduled game against the Cougars tonight. The first set began much like the last match ended, with both teams going back and forth and trading points. With the Bruins ahead 10-9 in the set, the Bruins were able to force three consecutive BYU errors to gain some breathing room at 13-9. Again the two sides traded points and at 16-14, the Bruins blew the set open as Thomas Amberg scored a kill, BYU committed an attack error and Amberg and Gonzalo Quiroga combined for a block that got the crowd to its feet as UCLA went ahead 19-14. From there the Bruins continued to expand their lead and cruised to a 25-17 first set victory.
UCLA took the momentum from the first set and continued it into the second set, and with the score tied at 6-6, they scored four straight points to again put the Cougars in a hole. BYU committed back-to-back errors and then UCLA recorded back-to-back blocks by Amberg and Jeremy Casebeer and Amberg and Nick Vogel to make it 9-6 Bruins. The Cougars slowly chipped into the lead, but at 15-14, Quiroga and Kyle Caldwell put the Bruins back up by three after Quiroga hammered home a kill and Caldwell served one of his two aces on the night to make it 17-14 UCLA. A couple of more BYU errors made it 19-15 Bruins and again the Bruins continued the attack and won set two easily by the score of 25-19.
The Bruins saved their best for last as they made sure that there would be no BYU comeback this time, taking seven of the first eight points of the set to jump out to a 7-1 lead over the Cougars. Again the Bruins refused to let up and did not allow the Cougars to get any closer than five points for the entire set as each of the seven starters for the Bruins continued to make play after play. Finally, with the Bruins up 24-17 and holding seven match points, Jeremy Casebeer scored the final kill of the match to win set three 25-17 and seal the match in three, sending the crowd to their feet once again and coach Al Scates home with his 1,238th victory.
Overall, Quiroga led the Bruins with 11 kills, two aces and three block assists to give him a match-high 14.5 points. Seniors Kyle Caldwell, Nick Vogel, Weston Dunlap, Thomas Amberg and Jeremy Casebeer each had stellar performances in their final regular season home match for the Bruins as well. Vogel and Dunlap had 9.5 and nine points respectively as they combined for 13 kills and five total blocks in the match. Vogel also served three aces on the night, which tied his career-high. Caldwell set the Bruins to an outstanding .342 hitting percentage and had two total blocks and two aces in the Bruins' three set win. Finally, Casebeer had six kills and a team-high seven digs while Amberg was again solid at the net, recording six block assists.
UCLA held BYU to just a .095 hitting percentage and outblocked the Cougars 9.5-5.0. Robb Stowell led BYU with 11 kills.
After the match, UCLA honored coach Scates for his 50 incredible years as the Bruins' head coach with a jersey retirement ceremony and a video tribute to the legendary coach. Scates then gathered with his hundreds of former players and coaches over the years and took an alumni picture at the end of the court. But in typical Scates fashion, he was more focused on returning to the John Wooden Center to host the first round of the MPSF Playoffs, saying that he hopes to be back in this building at least one more time as he addressed the crowd after the match.
The Bruins will travel to the Bay Area next weekend to face Pacific on Friday, Apr. 13 and Stanford on Saturday, Apr. 14 to finish up the regular season. Both matches will start at 7 pm.
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