Grant Sloane took full advantage of the opportunity after being inserted into the lineup.
Sloane led all players with a career-high 16 kills on a .583 attack percentage as No. 4/4 UCLA defeated No. 1/1 Long Beach State 29-27, 27-29, 25-19, 25-20 on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Sloane came off the bench late in the first game and within two plays had a kill to set up a game-point. The pin-hitter also had a combined 13 kills in the final two games against Long Beach State, including a game-high eight kills in the third game
The junior through the first month preliminary had been used as a specialist coming off the Bruins bench midway through games. In addition, Sloane saw time on the court as a serving specialist during UCLA’s loss to Long Beach State (10-1, 0-0 Big West) that opened the home-and-home series on Friday.
UCLA out-hit Long Beach Beach State .301 to .238 and had four players with double-digit kills in front of a home crowd of 3,636 people.
Along with Sloane, outside attacker Alex Knight contributed 14 kills on a .345 attack percentage. Middle attacker Merrick McHenry contributed 10 kills and hit .444, while pin-hitter Cooper Robinson also had 10 kills.
Ethan Champlin moving from outside attacker to libero led all players defensively with 17 digs and did not commit a service reception error.
Long Beach State outside attacker Clarke Godbold had a team-high 15 kills but was limited to less than a .200 attack percentage. Middle attacker Simon Torwie also had seven kills and zero errors on a match-best .636 attack percentage.
The Bruins (9-3, 0-0 MPSF) led by one-point midway through the fourth game before having back-to-back kills from Zach Rama and then a kill from Sloane to extend their lead to 15-11. In addition, Sloane later in the game had a kill to start a 4-2 run that closed out the match.
UCLA hit a match-best .438 in its third-game victory and led by as many as four points midway through the game. The Beach cut the deficit to 18-16, but the Bruins were able to close out the game on a 7-3 run that featured two kills from Knight.
Long Beach State opposite Skyler Varga had a game-high three blocks in the second game, including a block in overtime on an UCLA game-point opportunity. Varga also had the kill with Long Beach State trailing 24-23 that sent the game into overtime.
UCLA failed to convert on four game-point opportunities and lost in overtime after back-to-back attack errors.
Long Beach State in the opening game fought off two game-points to force an overtime and then overcame three more game-points in the overtime. Knight, though, delivered a kill to set up a sixth game-point opportunity and on the following play had the game-winning kill.
Long Beach State entered this match as one of the two remaining undefeated teams in the nation. No. 2/2 Grand Canyon now with this Beach loss is the nation’s only undefeated team.