LOS ANGELES, Calif. --- No. 6 California Baptist University had one goal coming into this season; prove it belonged in the mighty MPSF.
Climbing all the way to sixth in the country with quality wins against the best in the nation had already laid a solid claim to the Lancers being able to play with the big boys, but with just one road win in conference play there was a small hole in the argument.
Thursday night the Lancers closed that hole with a definitive win over No. 3 UCLA in famed Pauley Pavilion. The Lancers downed the Bruins 3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-20) coming back after dropping the opening set to rattle off three straight wins and come away victorious.
The fact that Levi Cabral broke the all-time CBU record for aces in helping to lead the Lancers to the win just made it all the sweeter.
“We had some things we needed to iron out early in the season, but once we did we really started to click as a team,” said CBU Head Coach Wes Schneider. “The guys just started believing in each other and once that happened we realized we can play with anyone in the country. This win is huge, they’re one of the best teams around and to get a road win there is big.”
After falling behind 5-0 to open the second, CBU used a 13-4 run to grab a 13-9 lead and force a Bruin timeout.
The Lancers would be up as much as seven late in the set, but UCLA fought back, cutting it to a 21-18 CBU lead. The Lancers answered with four straight points, however, to hold off the run and even the match at 1-1, getting a pair of key aces in the game from Cabral.
After that CBU was off and running, winning the next two games by a combined 11 points.
The Lancers jumped ahead 10-5 early and held off the Bruins the rest of the way, hitting .440 in the third game. It was a similar story in the fourth as the Lancers sealed the win, jumping ahead 14-10 and then pulling away towards the finish line.
UCLA committed 20 attack errors over the final three sets and the Lancers had just 10, hitting .340 for the match.
Cabral posted 13 kills and four aces on the night, giving him 189 strikes from the service line to pass Blair Penner’s program record. Cabral already holds the career record for kills, passing that milestone earlier in the year.
Even after a collision at the net left him hobbled, Aaron McCalmont led CBU with 16 kills, hitting .414 on his 29 attempts.
“Aaron has been huge for us for the past four or five matches and that’s really contributed to the roll we’re on,” said Schneider. “It took him and (setter) Brett Anderson a while to get on the same page, but once they did it gave us a lot of weapons.”
With the win CBU sweeps the season series with the Bruins. The Lancers move to 16-12 overall, 12-10 MPSF and UCLA falls to 17-10, 13-8.
The Lancers have now won eight of their last nine matches, getting seven wins against Top 10 teams this season.