UCLA Faces Alabama A&M in First Round of NCAA Tournament in Clemson, SC
Nov. 26, 2007
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE
#8 UCLA (20-10) vs. Alabama A&M (15-9)
Friday, November 30
2 p.m. PT
Live: Audio, Gametracker
#8 UCLA (20-10) vs. Clemson (28-3)-Alabama (15-14)
Saturday, December 1
4 p.m. PT
Live: Audio, Gametracker
BRUINS TRAVEL TO CLEMSON FOR NCAA OPENER
The eighth-seeded Bruins (20-10) travel to Clemson, S.C. to open NCAA Tournament play this weekend, facing Alabama A&M (15-9) in the first round on Friday at 2 p.m. PT. With a win on Friday, UCLA will face the winner of the Clemson (28-3)-Alabama (15-14) match on Saturday at 4 p.m. PT. Live audio will be available for all UCLA matches at UCLABruins.com with Darren Preston at the call. The winner of Saturday's match advances to the Stanford Regional (Dec. 7-8).
BRUINS IN THE POLLS
The Bruins fell two spots to 12th in this week's CSTV/AVCA Top 25 poll. It marks the first time that UCLA has been outside the Top 10 since the final poll of the 2005 season. The Pac-10, the toughest conference in the nation, boasts six of the top 13 teams in the country. Stanford, USC, Washington and California rank fourth through seventh, respectively, while Oregon resides at 13th. In last week's Molten Volleyball Magazine poll, the Bruins were also ranked 10th.
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 THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
UCLA will be making its 26th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and holds an all-time record of 67-23. The Bruins have advanced to the Regional round in each of the last four seasons and made their first trip to the Final Four since 1994 last year. UCLA holds a 28-19 mark in NCAA Tournament matches away from Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins are also 8-4 in NCAA contests played in the Eastern time zone, but have never played in the state of South Carolina before.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Alabama A&M, which is located in Huntsville, Ala., earned the Southwestern Athletic Conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament after winning the SWAC Tournament against Grambling State two weeks ago. The Bulldogs are 15-9 overall and were 6-2 in league play. The lone team on Alabama A&M's schedule that UCLA played this season was Southern Mississippi. The Bruins swept Southern Miss, while the Bulldogs lost in three. Junior Brittani Lewis leads the Alabama A&M offense with 3.86 kills per game. Sophomore Natalie Rodriguez handles the setting duties, averaging 10.80 assists per game. As a team, the Bulldogs hit .180 with 2.07 aces, 14.01 digs and 1.91 blocks per game. Nedra Brown is in her first year as head coach at Alabama A&M and holds a 134-114 career mark in nine seasons of coaching. The Bruins have never played Alabama A&M or a team from the SWAC. UCLA is 4-0 all-time against teams from the state of Alabama, defeating Auburn (1972), Alabama (1976), Samford (2004) and UAB in the first round of last season's NCAA Tournament at Pauley Pavilion.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Clemson, winners of the Atlantic Coast Conference and ranked 20th in this week's CSTV/AVCA Top 25 poll, finished the regular season with a 28-3 record and a 21-1 mark in the ACC. UCLA and Clemson had no common opponents during the regular season. The Tigers' offense is paced by junior Danielle Hepburn, who is averaging 3.86 kills and 1.44 blocks per game. Sophomore Kelsey Murphy sets up the Clemson hitters with 12.71 assists per game, while sophomore Didem Ege is the top defensive player with 5.36 digs per game. As a team, the Tigers are hitting .279 with 1.44 aces, 18.59 digs and 2.83 blocks per game. Head coach Jolene Jordan Hoover is in her 15th year at Clemson and owns a 313-174 record. In 17-plus seasons of coaching, Hoover is 405-205. The Bruins have never faced Clemson, but are a perfect 15-0 against teams currently representing the ACC. UCLA is 5-0 against Florida State, 4-0 against Duke, 2-0 against Georgia Tech and North Carolina and 1-0 against Maryland and Virginia. The only time the Bruins have played a team from the state of South Carolina was in 1973 when they beat Winthrop.
SCOUTING THE CRIMSON TIDE
Alabama, an at-large entrant into the NCAA Tournament, finished the regular season with a 15-14 record and went 12-8 in the Southeastern Conference, which was good for third in the Western Division. The Bruins and the Crimson Tide had no common opponents during the regular season. Senior Crystal Hudson leads the Tide offensive attack with 3.87 kills per game to go along with a team-best 1.03 blocks per game. Senior Brigitte Slack is the team's setter, averaging 12.09 assists per game, while junior Amy Pauly is the top defensive player at 5.24 digs per game. Head coach Judy Green is in her 12th year at Alabama and has a 202-179 record with the Crimson Tide. In 21-plus seasons of coaching, she is 598-253. UCLA has faced Alabama only once on Dec. 9, 1976. The teams played back in the day when tournament matches were best two-of-three, with the Bruins winning that contest in two games. The Bruins hold a 19-3 record all-time against teams from the SEC. UCLA is 3-3 against Florida, 6-0 against LSU, 4-0 against Georgia, 3-0 against Kentucky and 1-0 against Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi.
ALL-PAC-10 HONORS ANNOUNCED
For the third time in her career, junior setter Nellie Spicer has been named to the All-Pac-10 First Team, as announced by the conference on Monday. Senior Rachell Johnson and juniors Ali Daley and Kaitlin Sather were each recognized with honorable mention accolades, while Dicey McGraw and Katie Mills were named to the All-Freshman honorable mention squad. Spicer becomes the 10th player in UCLA history to earn first-team all-conference honors three times and can join an elite club next season. Just two Bruins, Natalie Williams and Elaine Youngs, are four-time, all-conference first-teamers. Just two Bruins, Natalie Williams and Elaine Youngs, are four-time, all-conference first-teamers. The Bruins have had 75 All-Pac-10 selections and 29 All-Freshman Team honorees over the last 21 seasons.
The strongest part of the UCLA women's volleyball team match after match is their defense, with the Bruins' blocking and digging rising to the occasion against some of the most powerful offenses in the nation. UCLA won both matches last week in which it led its opponent in blocking to improve to 15-2 on the year when accomplishing that feat. The Bruins set a season high in blocks with 20 against Oregon State on Nov. 8 and had their second-best total last Tuesday with 17.5 at Pepperdine. Katie Mills had a career-high 11, marking the second time this season she has had at least 10 blocks in a match. Mills also equaled Rachell Johnson for the team season high of 11, which Johnson posted against Arizona State on Sept. 21. Mills leads the team with 11 matches with at least five blocks, also leading the Bruins in roofs in 14 contests this season. Johnson has nine matches with five blocks or more. Mills leads the team in blocks at 1.45 per game and would be tied for third among Pac-10 players, but she has not played in the necessary 66.7 percent of games to qualify. However, she will qualify if she plays in each of the next seven games. Mills' 1.37 bpg in conference matches places her fourth in the Pac-10. Johnson is ninth in the conference in digs per game in all matches (1.15) and seventh in Pac-10 contests (1.22). Away from the net, junior Jessica Fine became the first player since Jordan Smith in 2005 to post 30 digs in one match against Oregon State on Nov. 8 and then set a school record for digs in a four-game match against Pepperdine. Fine had 33 digs against the Waves to surpass the previous four-game high of 32 by Smith and Chrissie Zartman. Fine has eight straight matches with double figures in digs and has moved into 10th in the Pac-10 in digs per game. Daley leads the Bruins in digs per game (3.66) and double-figure digs matches (22). As a team, the Bruins are first in the Pac-10 averaging 19.21 digs per game.
Jessica Fine setting a school record for digs in a four-game match is just one of the noteworthy performances by the Bruins this season. Against Arizona State last Friday, the Bruins won their 20th match of the year to make it nine straight seasons with at least 20 victories. UCLA also had five players record double-doubles (Daley, Johnson, McGraw, Sather, Spicer), marking the first time since Dec. 9, 2000 that five Bruins posted double-doubles in a single match. Ali Daley became the first UCLA player since Ashley Bowles in 2001 to post a 20-20 match, recording 26 kills and 25 digs against Oregon State on Oct. 12. UCLA's second matchup against Oregon State on Nov. 8 proved to be another historic contest. Fine had her first 30-dig match of the season and Daley and Sather each surpassed the 1,000-career kill mark. Sather became the 23rd member of UCLA's 1,000-kill club, but Daley will have to wait one more year to join that club, as her first 367 kills came during her freshman season at Long Beach State.
Junior setter Nellie Spicer joined elite company on Monday after earning her third straight All-Pac-10 First Team honor. Spicer becomes just the 10th player in UCLA history to earn first-team all-conference honors three times and can join another elite club next season. Just two Bruins, Natalie Williams and Elaine Youngs, are four-time, all-conference first-teamers. Spicer, who sits third on UCLA's all-time assists list with 4,504 will embark on her trek towards the top of the standings in 2008. Second-place Ann Boyer has 5,667 assists, while the school leader is Erika Selsor at 6,234. Spicer posted two double-doubles last week to give her 19 on the season and 47 for her career. Spicer is third in the Pac-10 in assists at 12.80 apg.
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 had double-doubles in all three matches last week to give her double-doubles in nine straight contests, as well as 22 on the season and 28 for her UCLA career. The junior earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention accolades on Monday and leads the Bruins in kills per game (3.85) and digs per game (3.66). Daley had a career night against Oregon State on Oct. 12, recording 26 kills and 25 digs to post her first-ever 20-20 match. Daley has led the Bruins in kills 15 times this season, including six straight matches from Sept. 21 to Oct. 18, and also has a team-best 27 matches with double figures in kills. Daley is also ninth in the conference in aces, digs and points per game.
K IS FOR KILL ... AND KAITLIN
Junior Kaitlin Sather continued her own double-double streak last week, with another streak mounting over the last half dozen matches. Sather has double-doubles in 11 straight contests, and in six of those matches she has led the Bruins in kills. Sather, who has 35 double-doubles for her career and 18 for the season, was honored for her success this year, receiving All-Pac-10 honorable mention accolades on Monday. Sather became the 23rd Bruin to surpass the 1,000-career kill mark against Oregon State on Nov. 8. Sather's season high in kills came against Stanford on Oct. 26, posting 20. She has led the team in kills 13 times this season and has double figures in kills in 21 of the last 22 matches. The junior is second on the team in kills per game at 3.66 and fourth with 3.05 digs per game.
QUICK DRAW McGRAW
One of the hottest Bruins of late is freshman Dicey McGraw, who has posted double-figure kills matches in three straight and double-doubles against Pepperdine last Tuesday and Arizona State last Friday. McGraw had 16 kills and 10 digs against the Waves and 11 kills and 10 digs against the Sun Devils. The freshman is averaging 13.33 kills per match over the last three contests to move her to fourth on the team in kills per game at 2.52. For her efforts in her first season, McGraw was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman honorable mention team on Monday. McGraw's career high in kills came against Oregon on Oct. 11 when she notched 18. McGraw has nine double-figure kills matches on the season.
MANNING THE MIDDLE
Senior Rachell Johnson was rewarded for her outstanding senior year on Monday, receiving All-Pac-10 honorable mention plaudits for the first time in her distinguished career. Johnson posted her second career double-double last Friday, recording 11 kills and a career-high 10 digs at Arizona State. Something about playing ASU must agree with the senior, who tallied her first double-double on Sept. 21 at home against the Sun Devils with 14 kills and a career-best 11 blocks. Johnson, who is third on the team in kills per game, is second in blocks and ninth in the Pac-10. Johnson has nine matches with at least five blocks this season, adding 21 contests with double figures in kills on the offensive end. She has led the Bruins in kills five times this season and blocks on 13 occasions.
RAISING THE ROOF
Opposing hitters are having a tough time finding their way around the imposing 6-3 frame of freshman Katie Mills and the Pac-10 coaches confirmed that on Monday when Mills was named to the league's All-Freshman honorable mention team. Mills set a new career high with 11 blocks at Pepperdine last Tuesday to give her 11 matches with at least five blocks this season. The freshman had 10 blocks at Oregon State on Nov. 8, to go along with 11 kills for her first career double-double. Mills leads the team with 1.45 blocks per game and will qualify for the overall Pac-10 leaders list if she plays in each of the next seven games, which will put her in a tie for third among conference players. She has led the Bruins in blocks in 14 matches and ranks fourth among Pac-10 players in blocks in conference matches at 1.37 bpg.
Since switching into the libero jersey during the middle of the Nov. 2 match at USC, junior Jessica Fine has been digging everything that's been coming towards her and has come up with a couple of historic matches this month. On Nov. 8 at Oregon State, Fine became the first Bruin since Jordan Smith to post 30 digs when she had 30 against the Beavers. Last Tuesday, the junior made history again, setting a new school record for digs in a four-game match, posting 33 against Pepperdine. The previous record was 32 set by Smith and Chrissie Zartman. Fine is averaging 24.57 digs over her last eight matches to give her 11 double-figure digs contests this season. She has moved into 10th in the Pac-10 in digs per game and is second on the team at 3.43 dpg.