The Bruins added two straight-set victories to their win streak.

No. 5 UCLA men’s volleyball (16-4, 6-0 MPSF) defeated both Ohio State (6-14, 2-6 MIVA) and Penn State (8-10, 5-2 EIVA) by scores of 3-0 on Friday and Saturday, respectively, at USC’s Galen Center. The Bruins’ six-game win streak is their longest of the 2018-2019 season.

The Bruins opened the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Challenge with 10 total blocks against Ohio State – the most they’ve tallied in a three-set match this season. Junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah said UCLA’s blocking helped hold Ohio State to a .017 hitting percentage, the lowest mark of any UCLA opponent this year.

“It was definitely our best blocking game of the season,” Gyimah said. “We just realized that they weren’t that fast on offense, so we just had to get out there and be super disciplined and get our arms up over the net.”

Despite the straight-set victory, junior outside hitter Austin Matautia said the Bruins’ performance was not as high paced as he hoped.

“We needed to improve our energy,” Matautia said. “We need to be better at feeding off of each other when we score points.”

Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Sam Kobrine – whose .467 hitting percentage against the Nittany Lions was a full-game career-high – said the Bruins reversed the course in Saturday’s match against Penn State.

“We got off to a really good start,” Kobrine said. “We were really big in the first set and we carried that energy throughout the entire match.

The Bruins hit for .750 in the first set en route to a 25-12 victory, their largest point differential in any set this season. Gyimah said UCLA’s serving – including Matautia’s three consecutive aces – allowed the Bruins to control the tempo of the opening set.

“Our serves were firing,” Gyimah said. “Behind that, we were just really focused on their tendencies, and we scouted them well.”

Following its first-set loss, Gyimah said Penn State was able to reduce the scoring gap in the next two sets after opting for a new offensive approach.

“Honestly, the whole game would have gone like the first set, but they changed up what they were doing,” Gyimah said. “They strayed away from their tendencies, but it’s good that we forced them to do that.”

Penn State’s shift away from its original game plan was not enough to stop UCLA in the second and third sets. The Bruins outhit the Nittany Lions .460 to.132, respectively, en route to winning the second and third sets by scores of 25-19 and 25-21, respectively.

The Bruins hit a season-high .530, led by Gyimah’s .733 mark to go along with a team-high 11 kills.

The Bruins won the match 3-0, but lost another outside hitter to an apparent injury at the beginning of the third set. With the score tied 3-3 in the third set, Matautia appeared to suffer a leg injury and was replaced for the rest of the game by freshman outside hitter Ian Eschenberg – who tallied his first career kill against the Nittany Lions.

Eschenberg was called upon to make his second career appearance, as the Bruins’ first backup outside hitter, Kobrine, has been filling in for injured senior outside hitter Dylan Missry.

The Bruins will attempt to continue their win streak and undefeated conference record against No. 10 Brigham Young (9-6, 4-3) in Provo, Utah, on Thursday.


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