Fifth-Ranked Bruins Head to The Islands for Labor Day Weekend

Aug. 27, 2007


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#5 UCLA (1-1) vs. Louisville (3-0)
Friday, Aug. 31
Honolulu, Hawaii
Stan Sheriff Center
8 p.m. PT
Live Stats:

#5 UCLA (1-1) vs. #25 Kansas State (3-0)
Sunday, Sept. 2
Honolulu, Hawaii
Stan Sheriff Center
5:30 p.m. PT
Live Stats:

#5 UCLA (1-1) vs. #16 Hawai'i (1-2)
Monday, Sept. 3
Honolulu, Hawaii
Stan Sheriff Center
8 p.m. PT
Live Stats:

What better place for the fifth-ranked UCLA women's volleyball team to labor on this Labor Day weekend than the Hawaiian Islands, as the Bruins travel to Honolulu for the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic. UCLA (1-1) will take on a pair of squads that went undefeated during its first weekend of play in Louisville (3-0) on Friday at 8 p.m. PT and 25th-ranked Kansas State (3-0) on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. PT. Then on Monday, the Bruins will face their fourth ranked opponent in the first two weeks of the season, taking on the host Rainbow Wahine (1-2), ranked 16th, at 8 p.m. PT. Live stats will be available for all matches online at Hawaii's website,

The UCLA women's volleyball team is no stranger to playing in Hawai'i and will be making their 20th straight appearance at the Rainbow Wahine Tournament. The Bruins hold an all-time record of 42-15 in their previous 19 trips, winning the tournament seven times. Twice during the last 19 years, the Bruins have made a pair of trips to Hawai'i in the same season, advancing to the Final Four in 1989 when the Rainbow Wahine hosted and to the Regionals last year when UCLA beat Oklahoma and Hawai'i to advance to the Final Four. Overall, the Bruins are 55-30 all-time in Honolulu.

UCLA maintained its fifth position in this week's CSTV/AVCA Top 25 poll. The Bruins picked up 16 more points in this week's poll and have now been ranked in the AVCA Top 5 in 16 of the last 17 rankings. In the initial Molten Volleyball Magazine poll, which debuted last week, the Bruins were also ranked fifth.

In taking a closer look at the UCLA women's volleyball jerseys, you will notice that the 'C' is a different color than the 'U', 'L', 'A' this season. The different color 'C' signifies the roman numeral for 100 and celebrates the 100 NCAA Championships won by the Bruins. Women's volleyball has a hand in three of those national titles, winning NCAA championships in 1984, 1990 and 1991.

Louisville went 3-0 at its own Invitational last weekend, besting Memphis and Tennessee Tech in four games and Coastal Carolina in three. The Cardinals stayed on the cusp of joining the Top 25, remaining the first on the Others Receiving Votes column. A team with international flair, the Cardinals have six players on their team from outside the U.S., representing China, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia and Uzbekistan. Slovak Jana Matiasovska led Louisville during the first weekend, with the junior totaling 4.18 kills and 1.73 digs per game. Senior Svetlana Dukule, from Latvia, averaged 3.00 kpg, while Floridian Justine Landi posted 2.91 kpg for the Cardinals, who hit .293 as a team with 30 aces and 21 blocks in three matches. Louisville returns nine letterwinners from last year's team that posted a 25-6 mark, a 13-1 record in the Big East Conference and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Leonid Yelin is in his 12th year as the Cardinals' head coach and holds a record of 284-73 at Louisville and an overall mark of 398-109 in 16-plus seasons. The Bruins lead the all-time series against the Cardinals 3-1, with the last meeting coming in Hawai'i on Aug. 29, 2003. UCLA prevailed in straight sets, 30-24, 30-13, 30-23. Louisville's win in the series came in Honolulu on Aug. 30, 1996, a four-set victory.

Kansas State didn't travel far for its first competition of the year, enjoying the short trip to Wichita and the ensuing championship at the Best Western Shocker Volleyball Classic. The Wildcats upset 14th-ranked Cal Poly in five and also beat North Texas in three and Wichita State in four to earn a spot in this week's Top 25. Kansas State will look to improve to 4-0 with a home match on Tuesday against Houston before travelling to Honolulu. Junior transfer Natalya Korobkova had a great Wildcat debut last weekend, earning tournament MVP honors and averaging 4.70 kills, 2.80 digs and 1.20 blocks per game. Sophomore Kelsey Chipman posted 2.92 kpg, while senior Stacey Spiegelberg averaged 12.08 assists and 2.58 digs per game. Seventh-year head coach Suzie Fritz owns a career and school record of 127-62 in six previous seasons. Last season, the Wildcats were 12-18 and placed 10th in the Big 12, but return nine letterwinners from that squad. UCLA has defeated Kansas State in both matchups between the two teams. The last meeting also came in Honolulu on Sept. 1, 2001, as the Bruins won in four games, 30-25, 25-30, 30-25, 30-16. The first meeting came in Nebraska, with the Bruins posting a four-game victory on Sept. 13, 1991.

Hawai'i struggled to a 1-2 performance in last week's tournament in Honolulu, beating Colorado State in five, but sandwiching that with a five-game loss to Michigan and a three-set defeat to Oregon State, causing them to drop six spots to 16th in the AVCA Top 25 poll. The Rainbow Wahine return 10 letterwinners from last year's team that went 29-6 and won the Western Athletic Conference, but fell to UCLA in the regional final. Junior Jamie Houston averaged 4.00 kills per game last weekend. Adding to the offense were sophomore Aneli Cubi-Otineru (2.92 kpg) and senior Juliana Sanders (2.62 kpg). Dave Shoji is in his 33rd year as the head coach of the Rainbow Wahine and holds a record of 927-165-1. Hawai'i holds a 34-30 edge over UCLA all-time, but the Bruins beat the Rainbow Wahine twice last season, including the three-game sweep in the regional final on Dec. 9, 2006. Hawai'i is 25-18 on its home court against UCLA.

Juniors Ali Daley and Nellie Spicer both earned All-Tournament Team honors at last weekend's AVCA College Volleyball Showcase in Omaha, Neb. Daley had double-doubles in both matches, while Spicer had 91 assists in two matches, including 55 to go along with 21 digs against #1 Nebraska on Saturday.

Junior setter Nellie Spicer was her usual All-American self last weekend at the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase, posting 36 assists, eight digs and five blocks against Utah on Friday and a double-double with 55 assists and 21 digs against top-ranked Nebraska on Saturday. For her efforts, Spicer was named to the All-Tournament Team. The 21 digs against the Huskers was just one off her career-high of 22, which came at Oregon on Nov. 4, 2005. Her first 50-plus assist contest of the year was also the 27th of her career. The 2006 first-team AVCA and Volleyball Magazine All-American was second in the Pac-10 last year with 13.66 assists per game and seventh in the nation. Through the first two matches, Spicer is averaging 13.00 apg to go along with 4.14 digs per game, which is second on the team.

At her current pace, junior outside hitter Ali Daley is going to have more double-doubles than an In-N-Out drive-thru window. After recording just six double-doubles in her first year at UCLA in 2006, Daley had a pair last weekend at the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase en route to earning All-Tournament Team honors. After leading the Bruins in kills with 11 and digs with 13 in their season-opening win, Daley had another double-double against #1 Nebraska with 19 kills and 18 digs. Ten of her 19 kills came in the Bruins' game-two victory over the Huskers. The 19 kills evened her previous UCLA career best set at Maryland on Sept. 16, 2006, while her 18 digs broke her previous Bruin high of 15 against Nebraska in last year's national semifinal. Daley's 4.29 kpg and 4.43 dpg both lead the team.

Stepping up in the absence of graduated senior Nana Meriwether, senior Rachell Johnson has made a huge impact in the middle of the Bruins' lineup in just two matches. Johnson was a blocking machine in UCLA's victory against Utah on Friday at the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase in Omaha, posting one block solo and seven assists for eight blocks, which was just one shy of her career high. On Saturday against top-ranked Nebraska, Johnson not only displayed her blocking prowess again, but also nearly set a career high in kills. The senior tied for the team lead with 19 kills, committing only two errors and hitting a remarkable .500. The effort was just two off her personal best of 21. Adding in her four blocks and two aces, Johnson's 23 points tied a career best, which she set against Washington on Nov. 12, 2005. Through two matches, Johnson leads the team in hitting percentage (.379) and blocks (1.71) and is second with 3.71 kpg.

Ordinarily that phrase would be a bad thing, but not for the Bruins. Nobody told freshman Dicey McGraw that last weekend was her first collegiate weekend of volleyball. Or that she was playing top-ranked Nebraska in front of a crowd of 10,000-plus. The freshman recorded 12 kills, including seven in a game-two victory over the Huskers on Saturday in the championship match of the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase. Against Utah on Friday, McGraw came in late in game one and played well in the final two games, posting five kills and a hitting percentage of .417. A day later against Nebraska, McGraw more than doubled her kill total with 12, teaming up with Ali Daley to post 17 of the Bruins' 21 kills in the second game on Saturday. Early on, McGraw is third on the squad with a .235 hitting percentage and 2.43 kills per game.

What's better than having one Machado on your team? How about having two. That is what the Bruins had on the floor for most of their match against Nebraska on Saturday at the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase, with junior Jade wearing the libero jersey and freshman Jazmin handling the defensive specialist duties. Both Machado's had double figures in kills against the Huskers. Jade had 15, breaking her previous career best of 13 set at California on Nov. 10, 2006. The junior added nine digs on Friday against Utah in 2 1/2 games and ranks fourth on the team with 3.43 digs per game. Jazmin, playing in her first collegiate match on Saturday, added 11 digs and is just ahead of Jade at third on the team with 3.67 digs per game.