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How UCLA volleyball star Mac May mastered the art of failing – Los Angeles Times

Mac May slammed down 39 kills against Washington State this season. It was the second most for a match in UCLA history. It wasn’t the match that best defined the star outside hitter.

That came against Stanford on Sept. 26 when the Bruins fell behind by two sets as May struggled to adjust a biomechanical kink in her hitting approach. She hit seven errors in the first three sets compared to three kills. But May, the program’s first 2,000-kill hitter in the last 20 years, didn’t back down.

She tallied the team’s only solo blocks with three and had three digs. She stayed engaged with her teammates as they rallied into a fifth set, then came alive with two kills and a block in the final frame as UCLA beat Stanford at home for the first time since 2016.

Statistically, it was May’s worst match of the season as she hit minus-0.022, but to UCLA coach Michael Sealy, it showed the best parts of the Bruins’ star.

“It was her being mature enough to just stay in there,” Sealy said. “Sometimes thriving is just staying in longer than you think you can.”

Sealy called bouncing back from failure a “lost art,” but May has made it into a career that could hang in the Louvre. Just the second UCLA player to win conference player of the year twice, May will lead the No. 13-seeded Bruins into the NCAA tournament Friday at Pauley Pavilion for UCLA’s first home postseason matches since 2017. The Bruins (23-5) begin with Fairfield (24-8) at 7 p.m. with a potential second-round matchup against Pepperdine (22-5) or Central Florida (26-6) Saturday at 7 p.m.

After coming one game short of sharing their first Pac-12 title since 1999, the Bruins are long shots in the national title conversation but could catch fire at the right time with May, the only player in school history to lead the team in kills for four seasons. She knows championship-winning volleyball already.

The graduate student helped UCLA win back-to-back NCAA beach volleyball championships in 2018 and 2019, the program’s first national titles after it became an NCAA sport in 2016.

Pairing with senior Elise Zappia on court No. 4 in 2018, May, who was recruited for indoor volleyball but had limited high school experience on the beach, was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team as the duo went 22-6. But May fell out of the rotation as a sophomore. She played only eight dual matches during UCLA’s second championship run, going 6-2, and watched from the sideline for the last six weeks of the season.

It was a dramatic fall for May. She was already a go-to player on the indoor team after being named to the All-Pac-12 first team as a sophomore. But she took the adjustment from indoor star to beach role player in stride. If anything, it was freeing, Sealy said.

“Mac’s identity was being an indoor elite player,” the coach added. “So she could go fail on the beach and it was not traumatic.”

For a UCLA beach program that was just five years old, any free player, especially a 6-foot-3 blocker like May, was an asset. But it wasn’t her world. She said she “no idea what to do on the beach.”

One of the most pressing areas of concern was her passing and ball control. While indoor teams that have six players per side can hide certain individuals on defense, the beach …….

Source: https://www.latimes.com/sports/ucla/story/2021-12-03/ucla-volleyball-ncaa-tournament-mac-may

Mac May slammed down 39 kills against Washington State this season. It was the second most for a match in UCLA history. It wasn’t the match that best defined the star outside hitter.

That came against Stanford on Sept. 26 when the Bruins fell behind by two sets as May struggled to adjust a biomechanical kink in her hitting approach. She hit seven errors in the first three sets compared to three kills. But May, the program’s first 2,000-kill hitter in the last 20 years, didn’t back down.

She tallied the team’s only solo blocks with three and had three digs. She stayed engaged with her teammates as they rallied into a fifth set, then came alive with two kills and a bloc…….

Mac May slammed down 39 kills against Washington State this season. It was the second most for a match in UCLA history. It wasn’t the match that best defined the star outside hitter.

That came against Stanford on Sept. 26 when the Bruins fell behind by two sets as May struggled to adjust a biomechanical kink in her hitting approach. She hit seven errors in the first three sets compared to three kills. But May, the program’s first 2,000-kill hitter in the last 20 years, didn’t back down.

She tallied the team’s only solo blocks with three and had three digs. She stayed engaged with her teammates as they rallied into a fifth set, then came alive with two kills and a bloc…….

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