Saturday — The 12th-ranked Bruins, 11-8 overall and 7-8 in MPSF play, will battle No. 9 USC (13-7, 11-6) in the Galen Center on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in a SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup match. UCLA posted a home win over the Trojans (3-1) earlier this season. The Bruins return home for matches on Monday, Mar. 30 and again Tuesday night for a couple of 7 p.m. battles against No. 1 Hawai'i (17-3, 12-2) in Pauley Pavilion.
Live Coverage — Internet radio will broadcast the match at uclabruins.com. The USC match will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Networks. Live stats will be available at the Trojan website. Fans can also follow the matches on UCLA's live Twitter feed @UCLAMVB.
Recapping Previous Action — Coach John Speraw picked up his 50th win as UCLA head coach in the 3-1 victory over Cal Baptist on Thursday (25-19, 25-20, 20-25, 25-23). Mitch Stahl led the way with a season-high 11 kills and 14.0 points. He hit .667 on the night. Eric Sprague added a career-best seven block assists.
UCLA fell in four sets, in its last match before the exam break, on Mar. 13 at UC Santa Barbara. Christian Hessenauer led the Bruins with 17 kills. J.T. Hatch, with 13, and Michael Fisher, with 10, were also in double digits in kills. Hatch added a career-best 10 digs. UCLA hit .134 for the contest to .340 for UCSB. The Gauchos also out-blocked the Bruins 11.5 to 6.0 in total blocks.
Bruin Notes — Jake Arnitz, Christian Hessenauer, Jackson Bantle, Eric Matheis, Jake Reeves and John Zappia earned a spot on the Athletic Director's Honor Roll for their work in the classroom in Fall Quarter 2014.
Success at the nets has moved the Bruins to seventh in the NCAA in blocks per set (2.71). Trent Kersten began the week ranked 15th in the NCAA in blocks/set (1.15) and Mitch Stahl was 21st (1.10). Stahl is also 21st in the NCAA in aces per set average (0.41). The Bruin team began the week ranked sixthth in the NCAA in service aces per set average (1.58). UCLA set a school record with 15 aces in a match earlier this season against Limestone College. Kersten ranks 15th in the NCAA in hitting % at .359.
Stat Notes: Hatch and Hessenauer each have 7 matches with at least 10 kills. Stahl has 7 matches with multiple aces. Kersten has 8 matches with at least 4 block assists ... Stahl has at least one ace in each of the last five matches.
UCLA saw its streak of outblocking teams end at eight straight in the Mar. 3 win over CSUN (9.5 to 11.0). UCLA had its biggest blocking match of the season in the match at Northridge (17.0 total blocks) on Feb. 6. UCLA has now blocked for double digits in nine of the last 12 matches (not vs. CSUN 9.5 or vs. UCSB-8.0 or at UCSB-6.0).
Last three matches -- Aces: Stahl-5, Hessenauer-3, Hatch, Arnitz-2; Block Assists: Kersten-8, Hatch-8, Sprague-8, Stahl-7; Kills: Hatch-44, Hessenauer-42, Stahl-25; Digs: Bantle-34, Hessenauer-23, Hatch-19
Scouting the Opponent — The Bruins defeated the Trojans 3-1 (25-15, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22) in the first meeting on Feb. 22 in Pauley. Jake Arnitz had 16 kills and hit .333 to lead the Bruins. UCLA outhit USC .200 to .118 and won the total blocks battle 15.0 to 9.5. USC split a pair of MPSF matches last week. The Trojans defeated UCSB 3-2 on Friday night to move into fourth place in the MPSF.
Stats Comps --- UCLA/USC (to begin the wk)--- Hit% .250/.264; Asts: 11.7/11.8; Blocks: 2.7/2.3; Digs: 9.1/8.8; Oppt. Hit%: .230/.227; Kills: 12.2/12.4; Aces: 1.6/1.5
Crosstown Cup — The winner of Saturday's match at SC will record 5 of the 10 points awarded for men's volleyball in the SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup. The Cup is presented annually to the school with the most successful athletic year in competitions against the other. UCLA currently leads this season's overall competition, 75-30. UCLA last won the trophy in 2012-13. For information go to http://bmwcrosstowncup.com/
Coach Speraw: Year Three at UCLA — John Speraw (UCLA '95) is in his third season as the head coach at his alma mater and picked up his 50th career win as the Bruin's head man at Cal Baptist on Mar. 26. Last season, the Bruins moved out to a 9-1 record to open the season which marked the program's best start since 2012. UCLA jumped up to the top spot in the AVCA poll for the first time since March of 2012 after winning the Outrigger Invitational and posting a victory over then top-ranked Stanford. The team concluded the season with an 18-11 mark and a fifth-place finish in the MPSF. In year one, the Bruins went 21-11 and advanced to the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament.
In 10 seasons at UC Irvine, Speraw led the Anteaters to three NCAA championships (2007, 2009, 2012), and a 199-106 (.646) overall record. In winning that 2007 title, Speraw became the only individual to win a championship as a head coach, assistant coach and player in collegiate men's volleyball history. On Mar. 25, 2013, he was named head coach of the U.S. Men's National Team for the next quadrennial ending at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero. Last summer, he guided the U.S. team to a win over top-ranked Brazil in the FIVB World League gold-medal match. In the summer of 2012, he had served as an assistant coach for the National Team, which advanced to the quarterfinals of the London Olympics. Speraw earned AVCA National Coach of the Year in 2006 and was given the USA Olympic Committee's National Coach of the Year award in 2007.
Next Up in MPSF—Schedule: M28-Hawaii at UCSD, UCI at BYU, UCSB at Cal Bapt, Stan at Long Beach, Pepp at CSUN, UCLA at USC
2015 MPSF Standings (as of Mar. 27)
Hawai'i 13-2 18-3
UC Irvine 13-3 19-4
Pepperdine 13-4 18-4
USC 11-6 13-7
BYU 10-7 13-8
UCSB 9-8 13-8
UCLA 7-8 11-8
Long Bch 8-10 12-11
Stanford 6-9 9-12
CSUN 6-10 9-13
Cal Baptist 2-15 6-17
UCSD 0-16 2-20