Match of the Week: BYU vs. UCLA
BYU and UCLA are the only two teams to have been number one in the AVCA Coaches Poll, dropped out of first place, and recaptured it later in the season. Those two teams meet up this week when UCLA hosts BYU this Friday and Saturday. Both teams have obviously played well enough to garner national attention this season. Last week, #1 UCLA made a huge statement by beating #5 Long Beach on the road in three sets. This huge win was enough for them to catapult #2 Ohio State even though Ohio State beat #9 Ball State, the second ranked team in the MIVA. BYU also had some statement wins. They have won 17 out of their last 18 matches, including 16 sweeps. Let’s see how the VMRI rates these two teams.
You can see a more visual representation of the team fundamental comparisons in the image to the right. Clearly UCLA is far superior to BYU when it comes to serving. However, the data has shown that serving has a very small effect on winning and losing. On the other hand, BYU has a significant advantage in attacking, the skill that has the greatest effect on match win percentage. In fact, BYU is the highest rated attacking team in our data. BYU’s tremendous attacking ability has allowed them to win despite their extremely low serving score. Will it be enough to overcome UCLA’s advantage in every other fundamental? According to our multiple models, UCLA is predicted to come away with a win. However, when directly comparing both teams’ fundamentals and how they match up against one another, BYU was actually predicted to have a 60% chance of beating UCLA on the road.
These matches should prove to be fun to watch with both teams being so closely rated, but there is another reason to follow them closely. UCLA, Ohio State, BYU, Stanford, and Long Beach make up numbers 1-5 in the AVCA Coaches poll. This is extremely important because even if the MPSF secures both at-large bids, then one team out of UCLA, BYU, Stanford, and Long Beach won’t make the national championship tournament after spending basically the entire year in the top 5. If either BYU or UCLA could manage to clench both matches this week, they would basically cement themselves in first place while undermining the other team’s chances at staying in the top 3 in the MPSF. If they split both matches, does Ohio State reclaim the top spot? We’ll just have to wait to see how this week turns out.
Rally of the Week
Here is our Rally of the Week. It features the match between Lewis and St. Francis on March 24th. If you have missed any of our Rally of the Week videos, you can find them here on our blog or on Our YouTube channel.