West Coast Powers Collide as UCLA Travels to Stanford for NCAA Regionals
Dec. 3, 2007
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE
#8 UCLA (22-10) vs. Oregon (22-10)
Friday, December 7
Live: TV - ESPNU, Internet - Audio, Gametracker
#8 UCLA (22-10) vs. #16 Cal Poly (23-7)-#1 Stanford (29-2)
Saturday, December 8
Live: TV - ESPNU, Internet - Audio, Gametracker
Stanford Regional Site
BRUINS FACE FAMILIAR FOES AT STANFORD REGIONAL
The eighth-seeded Bruins (22-10) travel north to Stanford for NCAA Regional play this weekend, facing Pac-10 rival Oregon (22-10) in the round of 16 on Friday at 7 p.m. With a win on Friday, UCLA will face the winner of the Stanford (29-2)-Cal Poly (23-7) match on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. All matches from the Stanford Regional will be televised live on ESPNU with Tracy Warren providing play-by-play and former UCLA men's volleyball player Karch Kiraly adding color commentary. The matches will also be broadcast live over the internet at UCLABruins.com with Darren Preston at the call. The winner of Saturday's match advances to the Final Four in Sacramento (Dec. 13 and 15).
BRUINS IN THE POLLS
The Bruins moved up four spots to eighth, the same as their seed in the NCAA Tournament, in this week's CSTV/AVCA Top 25 poll. UCLA fell out of the Top 10 for the first time since the final poll of 2005 last week when it was ranked 12th. The Pac-10, the toughest conference in the nation, boasts six of the top 10 teams in the country. Stanford, USC and California are ranked fourth through sixth, respectively. Oregon moved up four spots to ninth, while Washington, which was eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, is 10th. In the last regular season Molten Volleyball Magazine poll, the Bruins were 11th.
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 fifth straight trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 this weekend. Over the previous four seasons, the Bruins advanced to the Final Four in 2006, lost in the Regional final in 2003 and 2004 and fell in the Regional semifinal in 2005. UCLA is 19-2 all-time in NCAA Regional semifinals, but just 11-8 in Regional finals. In its 26th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, UCLA holds an all-time record of 69-23 and is 30-19 in matches away from Pauley Pavilion.
PREVIOUSLY IN PALO ALTO
The last time the Bruins played in an NCAA Tournament match at Stanford, they eventually went on to win the National Championship. In 1991, UCLA bested New Mexico in the Sweet 16 and defeated the host Cardinal in the Regional final to advance to the Final Four. The Bruins then beat Ohio State and Long Beach State in the Final Four to claim their sixth and most recent title. The only other time UCLA played in Palo Alto for the NCAA Tournament was in 1987 when it lost to BYU in the Regional semifinals.
SCOUTING THE DUCKS
Oregon swept Missouri State in the opening round last weekend and came back from 2-0 down against host Kansas State to win in five to advance to the Sweet 16. Junior Gorana Maricic (42 kills) and sophomore Sonja Newcombe (33) combined for 54% of the team's kills last weekend and lead the squad with 5.43 and 3.59 kills per game, respectively. Both also average over 2.50 digs per game. Freshman Heather Meyers is third at 3.09 kpg. Sophomore Nevena Djordjevic (8.51 apg) and freshman Rachel Morris (5.14) share the setting duties, while junior Katie Swoboda is the top digger at 5.24 dpg. As a team, the Ducks are hitting .272, averaging 1.56 aces, 15.64 digs and 2.78 blocks per game. In his third year at Oregon, Jim Moore holds a 51-40 record with the Ducks and is 403-196 all-time in 18-plus years of coaching.
INSIDE THE BRUINS-DUCKS SERIES
The Bruins have dominated the all-time series with Oregon 46-2, but saw their 40-match win streak snapped on Nov. 9 in Eugene in a three-game sweep. Box scores of both matches this season are available on pages 10 and 11 of this release. The teams have met just once on a neutral court, a UCLA win in the very first meeting in 1976, and have never met in the postseason. Both Bruin losses in the series have come when dropping the opening set, which UCLA has done just six times in the 48 previous meetings.
SCOUTING THE CARDINAL
Stanford played like the tournament's top seed last weekend, sweeping Santa Clara and Sacramento State at home to give them nine straight wins heading into this weekend's play. The Cardinal are 13-1 at home, with the lone setback coming against Washington on Oct. 12. Three players averaged more than four kills a game last weekend, led by Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Alix Klineman, who is posting a team-best 4.17 kpg on the year. Juniors Foluke Akinradewo (Pac-10 Player of the Year) and Cynthia Barboza are second and third at 4.04 and 4.03 kpg, respectively. Senior Bryn Kehoe leads the Pac-10 at 14.30 assists per game and ranks fourth nationally. Stanford is hitting .316 as a team with 1.43 aces, 17.21 digs and 2.74 blocks per game. Pac-10 Coach of the Year John Dunning is 205-32 in his sixth season at Stanford and holds a 616-128 mark in 21-plus years of coaching.
INSIDE THE BRUINS-CARDINAL SERIES
Stanford has won 14 straight from UCLA and leads the series 37-34. Box scores of both matches this season are available on pages 12 and 13 of this release. The Bruins are 11-18 in Palo Alto, but are 5-2 in NCAA Tournament matches against Stanford. UCLA won the first four postseason contests and then lost the 1992 title game to Stanford. After a Sweet 16 win over the Cardinal the next year, the Bruins fell to Stanford in the championship game again in 1994, the last meeting between the teams in the postseason.
SCOUTING THE MUSTANGS
Big West Conference champion Cal Poly swept Xavier and Purdue in last weekend's play in Athens, Ohio. The Mustangs had five common opponents with the Bruins this season, going 4-3 against Kansas State, Nebraska, Stanford, Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine, while UCLA was 3-3. Junior Kylie Atherstone leads the Mustangs with 4.75 kills per game. Senior Chelsea Hayes handles the setting and averages 12.44 assists per game, while senior Kristin Jackson posts a team-best 5.33 digs per game. As a team, Cal Poly is hitting .238, while averaging 1.86 aces, 16.92 digs and 3.27 blocks per game. Jon Stevenson is in his third season at Cal Poly and has a 65-19 record. The Bruins have not faced the Mustangs since 1985, recording a 12-1 edge in the series. Cal Poly's lone win came in Westwood in 1985, but UCLA won the final two meetings between the teams that season.
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 Nov. 26. 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. 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 is 16-2 this season when outblocking its opponents and has posted double figures in blocks 10 of the last 11 matches. The Bruins set a season high in blocks with 20 against Oregon State on Nov. 8. Katie Mills leads the team with 1.44 blocks per game and had 11 against Pepperdine on Nov. 20. Rachell Johnson, who is second at 1.17 bpg, matched that 11-block total on Sept. 21 against Arizona State. Mills leads the team with 11 matches with at least five blocks, also leading the Bruins in roofs in 15 contests this season. Johnson has 10 matches with five blocks or more and has led the Bruins 14 times. 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 on Nov. 20. Fine had 33 digs against the Waves to surpass the previous four-game high of 32 by Smith and Chrissie Zartman. Fine has 10 straight matches with double figures in digs and has moved into 10th in the Pac-10 in digs per game. Ali Daley leads the Bruins in digs per game (3.65) and double-figure digs matches (23). As a team, the Bruins are first in the Pac-10 averaging 19.24 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 on Nov. 23, 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 OSU on Nov. 8 proved to be another historic contest. Fine had her first 30-dig match of the season and Daley and Kaitlin 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 as a freshman at Long Beach State.
Junior setter Nellie Spicer joined elite company 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 4,583 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 had a double-double against Clemson with 49 assists and 17 digs to give her 20 on the season and 48 for her career. Spicer is third in the Pac-10 in assists at 12.82 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 leads the Bruins in double-doubles with 22, posting nine straight to end the regular season, giving her 28 for her UCLA career. The junior earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention accolades and leads the Bruins in kills per game (3.74) and digs per game (3.65). 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, 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 sixth in the conference in aces per game and ninth in digs per game.
K IS FOR KILL ... AND KAITLIN
Junior Kaitlin Sather led the Bruins in kills during both matches last week to give her eight straight contests in which she has accomplished that feat. Sather set a career-high in digs with 21 against Clemson, adding 19 kills to give her 12 double-doubles in her last 13 matches. Sather, who has 36 career double-doubles and 19 for the season, was recognized as an All-Pac-10 honorable mention honoree last week. 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 15 times this season and has double figures in kills in 23 of the last 24 matches. The junior is second on the team in kills per game at 3.70 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 four of her last five to give her 10 such contests on the season. The freshman had 12 kills to go along with eight digs and five blocks, which tied a career high, against Clemson. McGraw has three double-doubles this year, recording two of them during the final week of the regular season at Pepperdine and Arizona State. The freshman is averaging 12 kills per match over the last five contests to move her to fourth on the team in kills per game at 2.55. For her efforts this season, McGraw was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman honorable mention team. McGraw set her career high in kills against Friday's opponent, posting 18 against Oregon on Oct. 11 at Pauley Pavilion.
MANNING THE MIDDLE
Senior Rachell Johnson was rewarded for her outstanding senior year, receiving All-Pac-10 honorable mention plaudits for the first time in her distinguished career. Johnson led the Bruins in blocks for the 14th time this season against Clemson, recording six to go along with 11 kills. It was also the 10th time that the senior has posted at least five blocks in a match. Johnson has two double-doubles this season, with both coming against Arizona State. She had 11 kills and a career-high 10 digs at Arizona State on Nov. 23 and tallied 14 kills and a career-best 11 blocks at home on Sept. 21. Johnson, who is third on the team in kills per game at 3.28, is second in blocks (1.17 bpg) and ninth in the Pac-10. Johnson has double figures in kills 22 times, leading the Bruins in a match five times.
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 when she was named to the league's All-Freshman honorable mention team. Mills set a new career high with 11 blocks at Pepperdine on Nov. 20 to give her 11 matches this season with at least five blocks. 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 1.44 blocks per game and will qualify for the overall Pac-10 leaders list following her next match, which will put her third among conference players. She has led the Bruins in blocks in 15 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 came up with a couple of historic matches last 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. On Nov. 20, the junior made history again, setting a new school record for digs in a four-game match with 33 against Pepperdine. The previous record was 32 set by Smith and Chrissie Zartman. After tallying 18 in both matches last weekend, Fine is averaging 20.8 digs over her last 10 to give her 13 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 3.56 dpg.