Fifth-Ranked Bruins Renew Cross-Town Rivalry With #4 USC

Oct. 1, 2007


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#4 USC (13-1, 3-1 Pac-10) at #5 UCLA (13-2, 3-1 Pac-10)
Friday, Oct. 5
Los Angeles, Calif.
Pauley Pavilion
7 p.m.
Live: Gametracker, Audio

Two top-five teams will take the Pauley Pavilion floor on Friday, as the fifth-ranked Bruins (13-2, 3-1 Pac-10) host No. 4 USC (13-1, 3-1 Pac-10) at 7 p.m. Gametracker will be available on, along with live audio with Darren Preston at the call.

UCLA begins its defense of the Lexus Gauntlet Trophy on Friday with the women's volleyball match against USC. Last season, the Bruins set a new competition record for points en route to a 72.5-37.5 victory over the Trojans, giving UCLA its third victory. The two teams have alternated winning the trophy over the last six seasons, with the Bruins winning in `03, `05 and `07. Women's volleyball is one four sports, along with football and men's and women's basketball, which reward 10 points to the winner of the UCLA-USC contest. Five points are awarded for each of the other 14 sports that both teams compete in.

Friday's match against Stanford, which was aired on tape delay on CSTV will be shown one more time on Tuesday at 9 a.m. The Stanford contest was the third time this year the Bruins have been on TV, with three more on tap for the Pac-10 season. Matches against Washington (Oct. 18), Stanford (Oct. 26) and USC (Nov. 2) will be aired on Fox Sports Net on tape delay. Additionally, the Bruins are being featured regularly on the Lexus Gauntlet show, which airs on Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. on FSN Prime Ticket. This week, the show will be devoted predominantly to women's volleyball, with the first Lexus Gauntlet showdown on Friday. Junior Nellie Spicer will be featured during the broadcast.

UCLA maintained its position of fifth for the sixth week in a row in the latest edition of the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 poll. The Bruins lost 14 points in the poll and remain 41 points back of this week's opponent USC. UCLA has still gained points in four of the six rankings. The Bruins have now been ranked in the AVCA Top 5 in 21 of the last 22 rankings. In last week's Molten Volleyball Magazine poll, the Bruins stayed at 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.

Just like the Bruins, the Trojans completed a 1-1 road trip in Northern California last week, losing their first match of the season in three games to No. 2 Stanford on Thursday before beating 10th-ranked California in four on Friday. UCLA and USC had two common opponents during the preseason. Both teams beat Utah in four and swept Cal State Northridge. USC will play a third common opponent on Tuesday when it hosts UC Irvine. The Women of Troy are led offensively by seniors Asia Kaczor and Diane Copenhagen and freshman Kimmee Roleder. Kaczor is first on the team with 4.43 kills per game and fourth with 2.20 digs per game. Copenhagen is averaging 3.47 kpg and 2.79 dpg, while Roleder is third at 3.31 kpg and 2.12 dpg. Setting the offense is sophomore Taylor Carico, who is posting 12.22 assists per game. The Trojans are hitting .279 as a team with 1.59 aces, 16.67 digs and 2.69 blocks per game. Head coach Mick Haley is in his seventh year with USC and holds a record of 171-28. In 30-plus seasons of coaching, Haley is 943-216-1.

Last year, UCLA swept the season series with USC for the first time since 1999. The Bruins won in four after dropping the first game at USC on Oct. 20 and then swept the Trojans at Pauley in the last meeting on Nov. 17. Previous to those two Bruin victories, they had dropped 11 in a row to the Trojans. UCLA still leads the all-time series 52-47. The Bruins are 23-19 at home against the Women of Troy and 24-18 in Pac-10 action against USC. If Friday's match is a three-gamer, odds are good the Bruins will win, as they have a 19-10 advantage in matches lasting three games. In four and five-game matches however, USC holds the edge with a 28-18 record. Winning the first game will also likely be a big indicator of how the match will go. UCLA is 42-14 when winning the first game, while USC is 33-10 when taking the opener.

Freshman Juliane Piggott was the serving star last week for the Bruins, recording six aces, including four against Stanford on Friday. Piggott began game three against the Cardinal with three straight aces. The freshman is now third on the team with 11 aces. The team leader is still junior Ali Daley with 18, but senior Rachell Johnson is looking to defend her aces title from last year and is one back at 17. Juniors Kaitlin Sather and Nellie Spicer are also in double figures in aces with 10 apiece. The Bruins have 58 aces over their last eight matches, an average of 7.25 per contest.

In the Bruins' first three Pac-10 matches they had 14.5 blocks each time, resulting in wins over Arizona, Arizona State and California. Four different players averaged at least a block per game in the first three conference matches, led by senior Rachell Johnson's 1.83 bpg. Juniors Ali Daley and Kaitlin Sather and freshman Katie Mills were also above one block per game during the block attack for the first three.

Junior setter Nellie Spicer continues to live up to her status as arguably the best setter in the country. Spicer had 88 assists last week to surpass the 3,700 mark for her career. The All-American has 3,771 as a Bruin, which is good for fourth on UCLA's all-time assists list. Spicer is on pace to move into the third spot in early November, which is held by Julie Bremner and her 4,089 assists. Spicer had a double-double for the fourth and fifth straight matches last week and now has eight on the season and 36 for her career. The junior posted 52 assists and 13 digs against California and 36 assists and 11 digs against Stanford. The junior has earned All-Tournament honors in all four tournaments the Bruins played in during the preseason, earning MVP accolades at the Hawaiian Airlines Classic and the UC Irvine Invitational. Spicer is third in the Pac-10 in assists at 12.73 apg and was 16th in last week's NCAA rankings. She is also third on the Bruins' squad in digs per game at 2.98.

At her current pace, junior outside hitter Ali Daley is going to have more double-doubles than an In-N-Out drive-thru window. Daley, who equaled her double-double total from last season in just the 12th match of 2007, added two more last week to give her eight on the year. Daley had match highs in kills with 18 and digs with 21 in the five-game comeback against California. Her 21 digs were a UCLA career best. Daley added six blocks against the Golden Bears to give her 19 in a three-match span. The junior came back the next night with a team-high 12 kills and 10 digs against Stanford. Daley set her UCLA career high with 21 kills against San Diego on Sept. 15. Daley has twice earned All-Tournament Team honors this season at the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase and the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic. Her 3.96 kpg and 12 double-figure kills matches lead the team. She is eighth in the Pac-10 in points and aces per game. Daley, who has eight contests with at least 10 digs, is second on the team with 3.26 digs per game.

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 career-high 20 digs against California on Thursday and followed that up with a 19-dig performance against Stanford on Friday. The junior has 12 matches with double figures in digs in 15 contests. Machado's 3.78 digs per game leads her closest teammate by more than half a dig and also ranks her sixth in the Pac-10.

Junior Kaitlin Sather posted her ninth and 10th double-figure kill matches last week at California and Stanford, recording 10 in each match. Two weeks ago, Sather opened Pac-10 play in style, hitting over .400 in matches against Arizona and Arizona State. Sather hit a season-high .467 with a team-leading and season-best 17 kills against Arizona. The next night, the junior swung at a .414 hitting percentage, sporting her fifth double-double of the year with 14 kills and 13 digs. Sather sits second on the team at 3.45 kpg. Along with her 10 double-figure kills matches, Sather has led the Bruins in that category in three contests this season.

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 set a personal high with 11 blocks against Arizona State on Sept. 21, adding 14 kills for her first career double-double. The senior has four matches with at least five blocks this season and leads the club in that category with 1.20 blocks per game. Johnson is also 10th among Pac-10 players in bpg. The senior is third on the team with 3.37 kills per game and is second in aces at 17. She has posted 10 matches with double figures in kills and has led the team in that category three times.

The Bruins received outstanding production from three freshmen last week to show volleyball fans that the future is bright in Westwood. Katie Mills has started the last three matches at middle blocker and had her first double-figure kill contest with 11 against California on Thursday. The freshman hit .381 and also had eight blocks, including three block solos. Mills added six more kills against Stanford the following night. Juliane Piggott displayed her serving prowess last week, recording six aces, including four against Stanford. She is averaging 1.46 kills and 1.39 digs per game, posting her first double-figure kills match against Arizona on Sept. 20 with 10 kills. Dicey McGraw stands fourth on the team at 2.62 kpg and has five matches with double figures in kills, including 10 against Cal. McGraw posted her first career double-double with 13 kills and 16 digs against William and Mary on Sept. 8.

Junior Jessica Fine had a great defensive week in Northern California, registering double figures in digs in both matches. Fine had a career-high 18 against California on Thursday and followed that up with another fine performance of 16 digs against Stanford. Fine is now fourth on the team at 2.65 digs per game and is averaging 3.07 dpg in conference play ... sophomore Emily Clements injured her right knee in the first game of the match against Cal State Northridge on Sept. 14 and will miss the remainder of the season. Clements will be eligible to apply for a medical redshirt, having played in less than 30 percent of UCLA's matches and will still have three years of eligibility left beginning with the 2008 season ... junior transfer Laura Holloway, who has yet to play this year, will sit out this season with injuries and redshirt. Holloway will have two years of eligibility remaining at the start of the 2008 campaign.

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