No. 5 UCLA Opens Pac-10 and Home Schedule Against Arizona and Arizona State
Sept. 17, 2007
CONFERENCE PLAY STARTS AT HOME
The fifth-ranked Bruins (10-1) begin their quest for the Pac-10 Conference title this weekend when they host Arizona (10-2) on Thursday and Arizona State (8-5) on Friday. Both matches start at 7 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion. Gametracker and live audio with Darren Preston at the call will be available at UCLABruins.com
BRUINS IN THE POLLS
UCLA maintained its fifth position in this week's CSTV/AVCA Top 25 poll. The Bruins gained nine points in the poll and have gained points in four of the five rankings, but have kept their spot in fifth since the season began. UCLA has now been ranked in the AVCA Top 5 in 19 of the last 20 rankings. In last week's Molten Volleyball Magazine poll, the Bruins stayed at fifth.
C WHAT IT MEANS
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.
BRUINS IN PAC-10 OPENERS
Since Pac-10 Conference play began in 1986, the Bruins are 14-7 in league openers. UCLA won its first nine conference openers, as well as 13 of its first 15, but are just 1-5 since a win to open the 2000 Pac-10 campaign. On six occasions, the Bruins have opened with Arizona, going 4-2 against the Wildcats. In Pac-10 home openers, UCLA sports a 17-4 mark, but have lost three of its last four after starting 16-1 all-time in conference openers at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins have began Pac-10 home play against Arizona six times and are 5-1.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS
Arizona is receiving votes in the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 poll after finishing the preseason with a 10-2 record. The Wildcats went 3-0 last weekend in winning their home tournament, beating Cal State Bakersfield, UC Irvine and Davidson. Arizona's lone common opponent with UCLA during the preseason was UC Irvine, with both Pac-10 schools beating the Anteaters in four games. Arizona, which takes a six-match winning streak into Thursday's contest, is led by junior Randy Goodenough, who is averaging 4.38 kills, 2.47 digs and 1.33 blocks per game. She is one of five players averaging at least two kills per game. Freshman Tiffany Owens is second on the team at 2.69 kpg, while senior Dominique Lamb is third at 2.59. The Wildcats are hitting .246 as a team and are second in the Pac-10 in blocks at 3.63 per game. David Rubio is in his 16th year as the head coach of the Wildcats and just surpassed the 300-win mark at UA, sporting a 301-160 record. In 20-plus seasons, he has a career record of 423-226. UCLA holds a 44-16 lead in the all-time series with Arizona and has won two in a row after sweeping the Wildcats last season. The Bruins won in four in the match in Tucson and swept the Wildcats in Pauley Pavilion. Previous to UCLA's two-match winning streak, Arizona had won three in a row and eight of nine. The Bruins are 22-7 at home against the Wildcats and 28-14 in Pac-10 matches.
SCOUTING THE SUN DEVILS
Arizona State, which faces USC on Thursday, swept its own tournament last weekend, knocking off Florida A&M and Tulane in four and Virginia Commonwealth in three. The Sun Devils have five players averaging at least two kills per game, led by freshman Sarah Reaves, who is tops with 3.84 kills and 2.28 digs per game. Junior Margie Giordano is second with 3.28 kpg and 2.44 dpg. The Sun Devils are hitting .226 as a team. Brad Saindon is in his fifth season at ASU and owns a record of 51-75. In 16-plus years of coaching, Saindon holds a 295-215 mark. UCLA leads the series with Arizona State 56-6 and has won nine in a row and 21 of 22. The Sun Devils' lone win during that stretch was in Tempe in 2002 in four games. Excluding that match, ASU has won just nine games from the Bruins in the last 22 contests. UCLA is 29-1 all-time at home against the Sun Devils, with the only loss coming in 1995. The Bruins are also 38-4 against the Sun Devils in Pac-10 matches.
BRUINS RACK UP MORE TOURNAMENT HONORS
The Bruins won their third regular-season tournament with their victory in San Diego last weekend and once again earned more All-Tournament Team accolades. Junior Nellie Spicer earned her fourth straight All-Tournament honor and was twice named the MVP in tournaments at the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic and the UC Irvine/Nike Invitational. Senior Rachell Johnson joined Spicer on last week's All-Tournament Team. No MVP was named for the tournament. Johnson's other honors include All-Tournament mentions in Hawaii and Irvine. Junior Ali Daley was named All-Tournament at the AVCA Showcase in Omaha and the Hawaiian Airlines Classic, while freshman Dicey McGraw received the honor at the UC Irvine Invitational.
ACES IN THE HOLE
The Bruins serving skills were on display last weekend, posting 24 aces at the USD Tournament. UCLA had nine against both Cal State Northridge and San Diego, adding six against Pittsburgh. Senior Rachell Johnson led the way with eight aces, including a career-high six against the Toreros. In fact, 10 different players had at least one ace. The Bruins, who had a season-high 10 aces against Southern Mississippi on Sept. 8, have 45 aces over the last six matches after posting just 25 in the first five contests.
Junior setter Nellie Spicer continues to live up to her status as arguably the best setter in the country. Spicer earned All-Tournament honors for the fourth time this season at last weekend's USD Tournament. Spicer averaged 12.64 assists per game in the three-game tournament, including a season-high 60 in a five-setter against San Diego. The junior added 13 digs against USD for her fourth double-double of the season and the 35th of her career. Spicer, who moved into fifth place in the UCLA assist charts two weeks ago in Irvine, can move into fourth this weekend with 90 assists in the two matches. Spicer has 3,582 assists for her career and is close to eclipsing Krystal McFarland's total of 3,671. On Sept. 3 against Hawai'i, Spicer registered a career-high eight kills in leading the Bruins to a three-game sweep of the Rainbow Wahine to claim the tournament title. Spicer is third in the Pac-10 in assists at 12.79 apg and was 20th in last week's NCAA rankings. She is also third on the Bruins' squad in digs per game at 2.91.
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 already has five on the season. The junior led the Bruins in kills in both matches she played last weekend, posting 17 against Cal State Northridge and 21 against San Diego. The 21 kills against the Toreros were a UCLA career high for Daley, breaking her previous Bruin best of 19 set on Aug. 25 against Nebraska. It marked the fifth and sixth times this season Daley has led the Bruins in kills. Two weeks ago, Daley had a pair of double-doubles, recording 14 kills and 13 digs against UC Irvine and 12 kills and 12 digs against Southern Mississippi. Daley has twice earned All-Tournament Team honors this season at the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase and the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic. Her 4.00 kpg lead the team and are eighth in the Pac-10. She is also second on the team with 3.16 digs per game. Daley has eight double-figure kills matches and five contests with at least 10 digs.
MANNING THE MIDDLE
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 her final campaign in Westwood. Johnson is third on the team in blocks per game and has turned on her offense over the last few weeks. She is second on the team at 3.59 kills per game, averaging 3.36 kpg last weekend in earning All-Tournament Team honors. In one of her better matches of the season, Johnson had 15 kills and a career-high six aces in a victory over San Diego. The half a dozen aces moved Johnson to a team-best 15, putting her sixth in the Pac-10. Johnson had double figures in kills in all three matches, giving her seven such contests this season. She also hit a season-best .588, with 11 kills and one error in 17 attacks, against Cal State Northridge. Johnson is just two percentage points behind Elise Carstensen for the team hitting percentage lead, attacking at a .361 clip.
K IS FOR KILL ... AND KAITLIN
Kaitlin Sather continued her tremendous junior campaign last weekend at the USD Tournament, posting 3.73 kills per game, a team-best 2.82 digs per game and her third and fourth double-doubles of the season. Sather had 12 kills and 11 digs against Cal State Northridge and finished the weekend with 13 kills and 11 digs to give her 21 career double-doubles. In the middle contest, Sather had a match-high 16 kills, the second time she has led the Bruins in that category in a match. The 16 kills were also a season high. Sather is third on the team in kills per game at 3.47 and fourth in digs at 2.72.
QUICK DRAW McGRAW
Freshman Dicey McGraw remains one of the pleasant surprises to start the 2007 season, sitting fourth on the team in kills per game at 2.73. McGraw averaged 2.78 kills per game last weekend at the USD Tournament, including 13 against San Diego, which tied a career high. She added 10 kills against Pittsburgh, giving her four double-figure kill matches this season. In just her second collegiate match, McGraw had 12 kills against top-ranked Nebraska. Two weeks ago at the UC Irvine/Nike Invitational, the freshman had 13 kills and 16 digs against William and Mary for her first double-double, going on to earn All-Tournament Team honors.
A person can really stand out on a volleyball court when they are wearing a different colored jersey than their teammates. For junior Jade Machado, sure see stands out because she carries the libero tag and hence the different jersey, but so far this season she is also standing out because of her great defensive play. Machado had a pair of double-figure digs matches last weekend in San Diego to give her a team-leading eight. Machado had 12 digs against Cal State Northridge and added 10 against Pittsburgh. Her season and career high of 17 came against Louisville on Aug. 31 and was the second of five straight matches with double figures in kills. Machado's 3.56 digs per game leads the team and ranks her eighth in the Pac-10.