The No. 8 UCLA men's volleyball team reached deep to climb a big mountain when it knocked off top-ranked BYU in four sets on Thursday night in Provo. Scores of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) match were 25-22, 25-21, 15-25, 25-22. The victory was UCLA's first at BYU since the 2009 season and the first over a top-ranked opponent since it bested Stanford in 2014. The Bruins improve to 2-0 on the season while BYU dropped its season-opening match. The two teams will battle again on Saturday afternoon.
The Bruins limited BYU's powerful veteran attack to under .130 for the three sets it won and to just a .168 hitting percentage for the match. The Cougars, who ended the 2020 season with a 17-1 record, totaled 24 attack errors and 24 service errors for the contest. Freshman Ethan Champlin led the UCLA attack with 11 kills, five blocks and nine digs. Adam Parks, getting the start at middle blocker, added five blocks. Kyle Vom Steeg put away nine balls in his first career start and Austin Matautia hit .400 while contributing eight kills. Sam Kobrine had 28 set assists, seven digs and an ace while directing UCLA to a .237 hitting percentage. Both teams had 8.5 total blocks on the match. BYU outaced the Bruins 7-2.
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UCLA turned around early deficits in each of the first two sets on their way to the win. In set one, the Bruins went down quickly by 1-5 and 3-7. A couple of blocks by Parks and one by Champlin brought UCLA back to within one, at 9-10. BYU held on to the narrow lead until the score was tied at 19 after a Cougar error. Behind a strong service by Vom Steeg, UCLA went in front 21-20 on a tip kill by Matautia. A block from Sam Kobrine made it 24-22. Marcus Partain served the decisive point and Parks delivered the key swing for a 25-22 win. UCLA hit .320 for the set to .129 for BYU.
In the second set, UCLA went down 1-3 before gaining its first lead at 9-8 following a Cougar error. The score was even at points 10 thru 18. A triple block by David Matheney, Kobrine and Champlin pushed the Bruins in front 19-18. The margin grew to 23-20 after kill and ace from Kobrine. A block by Parks finished off the set at 25-21. UCLA outhit BYU .556 to .120 for the frame.
UCLA jumped out to a 5-2 advantage to begin set four and kept the lead throughout the set. BYU cut the margin to one, at 6-5 and 7-6, but could not move in front. A kill and a couple of blocks by Champlin pushed UCLA into a 11-6 lead. BYU came back to trim the gap to 16-14, but never pulled closer. Another Champlin kill increased the lead to 22-16. BYU saved three set and match points at the end, but a service error terminated the run and the set at 25-22.