International Volleyball

Back-to-back for UCLA as Bruins top Beach for NCAA volleyball title

Back-to-back for UCLA as Bruins top Beach for NCAA volleyball title

UCLA wins the 2024 NCAA title/Jan Kim Lim photo

LONG BEACH, California — Zach Rama and UCLA weren’t going to give Long Beach State a chance at another reverse sweep.

The sophomore from Phoenix had all three of his kills in UCLA’s final five points Saturday as the Bruins came away with a 25-21, 25-20, 27-29, 25-21 victory in the NCAA’s National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship.

Not only did UCLA repeat as national champion, it capped a season after which coach John Speraw likened his team to sewer rats. It’s really worth hearing and we’ll have the full quote when this story is updated.

And the ultimate sewer rat on Saturday might have been Rama. He played in the first three sets, but rarely touched the ball. He had no kills with one error in his first four swings. And late in the fourth, Speraw put him in for Cooper Robinson, who not only had 12 kills, but led UCLA in hitting percentage for the match at .417.

“It had to be done,” Speraw said.

The match was tied at 20 when Rama got his first kill. He put his team up 22-20 with another. After teammate Merrick McHenry missed his serve, Rama struck again. Two Long Beach hitting errors later UCLA celebrated.

“All I can say is I really appreciate John Speraw for trusting me and putting me in there,” Rama said. “Coop was having a great game, but we both bring amazing things to the volleyball table and we can both make plays at any given time.”

Rama, who was a pretty good high school basketball player, had offers, the best from Pepperdine.

UCLA of the MPSF ended its season 26-5 after sweeping Fort Valley State in the quarterfinals and beating UC Irvine in five on Thursday in the semifinals. This was UCLA’s 21st title, the first 19 under Al Scates, the 50-year coach who was replaced by Speraw and who was here Saturday.

Ethan Champion led UCLA with 15 kills, two assists, four digs and six blocks, one solo. Champlin was overcome with emotion after the victory.

Robinson had 12 kills and hit .417 to go with two assists, an ace, two digs and three blocks. Merrick McHenry, as he had been all season, finished nearly flawless on offense with 10 kills and one error in 11 attacks to go with an ace, five digs and five  blocks. Ido David had nine kills, an assist, three aces, eight digs and four blocks. Guy Genis had four kills with one error in nine attacks, four digs and four blocks.

Setter Andrew Rowan had 46 assists, an ace, three digs and two blocks. His team hit .297 and had six aces and 21…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at…