2007 Pac-10 Volleyball: UCLA
Aug. 9, 2007
UCLA returned to the Final Four in 2006 for its' first appearance national semifinals since 1994. However, with the loss of two All-Americans and the team's top libero, the Bruins will need to rely on new faces in order to make a deep run into the Tournament again in 2007. Coach Andy Banachowski will look to All-American setter Nellie Spicer to lead the way for the Bruins.
Spicer did a nice job of distributing the ball last season as six different players took 200 or more swings over the course of the season. The AVCA first team All-American was second in the Pac-10 in assists (1721 assists/13.66 apg) and led the Bruins to a .272 attack percentage (3rd in the Pac-10).
Quality options at outside hitter. Junior outside hitters Kaitlin Sather (310 kills/2.95 kpg) and Ali Daley (324 kills/2.92 kpg) will receive a good portion of the sets from Spicer. The two were efficient last season, as they combined to hit .242.
UCLA joins Stanford and USC as one of three Pac-10 schools to have inked four Volleyball Magazine FAB 50 recruits. Look for immediate contributions from freshman outsider hitters Dicey McGraw and Juliane Piggott, and middle blocker Katie Mills.
While senior middle blocker Rachell Johnson posted good numbers - 2.14 kills per game and 1.13 blocks per game, the Bruins will need to find her some help at the net. UCLA will need to replace half of the team's block totals. All-American middle blocker Nana Meriwether will be sorely missed as she posted big numbers last season - 4.09 kills per game, While leading the nation in hitting (.448) and blocks (1.95 bpg). Remove her numbers and the team's hitting percentage drops from .272 to .234.
Numbers to overcome as returning players accounted for just 50 percent of the team's kills, blocks and digs.
The Bruins get tested right away as four of their first five opponents were NCAA Tournament participants.