Deep UCLA men’s volleyball defeats Pepperdine and advances to the NCAA semifinals

Sam Burgi had not played in a match in over a month when UCLA men’s volleyball coach John Speraw introduced the senior off the bench at outside hitter in the season’s biggest match. Burgi delivered in four sets, 25-23, 22-25, 26-24, 25-19, as UCLA upset Pepperdine in an NCAA tournament quarterfinal on Tuesday night at Pauley Pavilion.

UCLA’s victory sets up a rematch of the 2018 national title match against Long Beach State in a semifinal on Thursday at 5 p.m. Burgi finished with six kills, three digs, and a block, including a vital softly struck kill in the fourth set that put UCLA ahead 22-18. The Bruins sealed the victory by winning three of the following four points.

“This is the deepest squad I’ve coached at UCLA,” Speraw remarked. “In situations like these, you go with the senior. I’ve done that several times during my career in pivotal circumstances. Burgi joins the series of spectacular performances by individuals who came off the bench when it counted.”

Speraw expressed “complete trust” in Burgi, who has not appeared in a match since March 26. He was aware that Burgi was capable of passing the ball, and the Bruins were fighting to maintain their rhythm. Burgi, a Laguna Beach native who transferred to UCLA from a club team where he also served as a reserve, was accustomed to waiting his turn. “I am accustomed to being the person who needs to work his (butt) off just to have a chance,” Burgi explained. “I’m very content where I am on the bench, forced to come in and fight for place.”



Written by Clint Pasillas

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