Volleyball Stymied by UCLA in Three Sets

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SAN DIEGO – Competing for the first time on its newly unveiled playing surface, the San Diego State volleyball team had its festivities spoiled by visiting UCLA on Thursday in a 3-0 defeat (16-25, 23-25, 15-25) inside Aztec Court at Peterson Gym.

The Bruins out-hit the Aztecs .273 to .078, maintaining a 39-30 advantage in kills and a decisive edge in team blocks (14.0 to 6.0), capitalizing on 23 attack errors to help fuel their victory. In addition, SDSU gifted UCLA 11 points on six wayward serves and five reception errors.

Individually, the Aztecs (2-8) were led by Kayla Rivera’s eight kills, while Madison Corf launched six non-returnables of her own, hitting .750 on eight attempts without an error.

The SDSU cause also included nine digs by Heipua Tautua’a, while Elly Schraeder totaled three blocks, including a solo stuff. Elsewhere, Sarena Gonzalez (12 assists) and Noa Miller (11 assists) split the setting duties as usual.

However, the Aztecs were unable to contain the exploits of the Bruins’ Francesca Alupei (.529), who led all players with 11 kills and nine total blocks, including a pair of solo stops, while Iman Ndiyae finished with nine put-aways and three block assists. Not to be outdone, UCLA (6-2) also received eight kills and four blocks (two solos) from Grayce Olson, while Anna Dodson hit .857 on six floored shots without an error on seven swings to go with a trio of block assists.

Despite the statistical disparity, the Aztecs and Bruins combined for 23 ties and 13 lead changes in the match. However, UCLA employed timely runs in each of the three sets to keep the Scarlet and Black at bay.

With SDSU clinging to an 8-7 lead in the first set following an attack error, consecutive kills by Olson sparked a 12-1 run that put UCLA in control. The visitors hit .333 in the frame, knocking down 15 kills while limited the Aztecs to a .038 clip on just seven kills against six attack errors.

SDSU rebounded in the second stanza, as the two squads witnessed 12 ties and eight lead changes. The Aztecs were paced by Tautua’a and Mikela Labno, who blasted three kills apiece. In addition, Tautua’a came through with seven digs in the frame, helping to limit the Bruins to their lowest efficiency of the night at .111 (10-6-36).

Neither side led by more than three points during the set, with UCLA forging a 15-12 advantage after two Alupei blocks, including a combined effort with élan McCall. However, the Scarlet and Black flashed its resiliency with a 9-4 spurt, punctuated by a pair of Tautua’a kills, which gave the host school a precarious 21-19 lead. SDSU also received put-aways from Schraeder, Labno and Corf during the run, while Ellie Geoghegan served up an ace.

After UCLA answered with three straight points on an Olson solo block and an Alupei kill sandwiched around an attack error, the Aztecs jumped back in front at 23-22 thanks a combined Tautau’a and Schraeder block followed by a Corf kill.

The Bruins stole SDSU’s momentum at this juncture on two put-aways by Alupei, including the clincher, while Peyton Dueck served up an ace in the interim.

Stung, the Aztecs fought valiantly to start the third set, as the two teams combined for eight ties and four lead changes in the early going. Rivera powered down a kill, while UCLA committed an attack error to give SDSU a 10-9 lead.

However, the Bruins tallied five straight points to vault in front for good. Ndiaye and Dodson joined forces on consecutive blocks, with latter capping the run with a kill.

The Aztecs never got closer than three points the rest of the way, as UCLA broke open a 19-14 score with a 6-1 closing blitz to complete the sweep. Olson totaled three kills down the stretch, while Ndiaye and Alupei added one apiece while combining on a block.

San Diego State wraps up its non-conference slate on Saturday, Sept. 17, when it travels down Interstate 8 for a crosstown matchup with the No. 8 San Diego Toreros, starting at 6 p.m. PT.

 


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Kayla Rivera’s

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