Third-Ranked Volleyball Heads to Denver

Sept. 6, 2006

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UCLA's road warriors travel to Denver, Colo., this week for the Pioneer Classic. It is the third of five consecutive road weekends for the Bruins to open the 2006 season. UCLA will face Texas State, Georgia and host Denver at the Pioneer Classic before heading east to face Towson on Sept. 12 and participate in the Hilton Garden Inn Greenbelt Invitational hosted by the University of Maryland. The Bruins are not scheduled to return to Los Angeles between the Pioneer Classic and the Hilton Garden Inn Greenbelt Invitational.

Meriwether Named Pac-10, National Player of the Week
UCLA senior middle blocker Nana Meriwether has been named the Pac-10 Volleyball and Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week for Aug. 28-Sep. 4.

Meriwether, a senior from Potomac, Md., was named the MVP of the Hawaiian Airlines Classic after UCLA posted three-game sweeps of Colorado, then-No. 5 Florida and then-No. 7 Hawai'i. In the Bruins match-up against Colorado, Meriwether tallied a season-high 10 blocks.

For the tournament, Meriwether had a record-setting performance against the Florida Gators as she boasted a .875 attack percentage, marking the highest attack percentage in UCLA history for a player with 20 or more total attacks. Her performance surpassed the .741 (20-K-0E-27TA) mark set by UCLA career kills leader Kristee Porter, which was set on Sept. 8, 2001 against Pepperdine. The Bruins moved up seven spots in the AVCA poll, from 10th to third, following the team's performance at the Hawaiian Airlines Classic.

Meriwether is the fourth Bruin to earn the national award, joining Annett Buckner (10/17/94), Porter (10/19/98) and current Bruin Nellie Spicer (11/14/05) as honorees.

UCLA vs. Texas State Bobcats (3-3)
Texas State has gone 3-3 to open the 2006 season, having played in an tournament in each of the two opening weekends of the season. The Bobcats play host to Baylor on Tuesday night before traveling to Denver. Friday's match will be the first meeting between UCLA and Texas State in women's volleyball. The Bobcats are coached by Karen Chisum who is in her 27th year with the program. Stat Leaders: KILLS- Lawrencia Brown (6.05/game), ASSISTS- Brittany Collins (8.00/game) and Christina Melvin (7.80/game), ACES- Lawrencia Brown (0.47/game), DIGS- Kacey Wimpy (4.21/game), BLOCKS- Christina Melvin (0.81/game).

UCLA vs. Georgia Bulldogs (2-4)
The Bulldogs won two of their three opening weekend matches before dropping all three contests at Georgia Tech last weekend. UCLA leads the all-time series with the Bulldogs by a 3-0 margin with UCLA taking the most recent meeting, winning the 1994 season opener 8-15, 15-11, 15-12, 15-4 on Sept. 1 in Hawaii. The Bulldogs are coached by Steffi Legall, who is in her second season at Georgia. Stat Leaders: KILLS- Maria Taylor (3.60/game), ASSISTS- Nikki Hawkins (9.36/game), ACES- Maria Taylor (0.60/game), DIGS- Brooke Burlingame (3.50/game), BLOCKS- Brooke Peugh (1.12/game).

UCLA vs. Denver Pioneers (2-2)
Denver comes into the Pioneer Classic with a 2-2 record, losing its first two matches of the season before downing Northern Arizona and UC Riverside at home last weekend. UCLA won the only previous meeting between the teams, a 15-10, 15-12, 15-1 win on Sept. 10, 1999, at the Pioneer Classic. Denver is coached by Beth Kuwata, who is in her 11th year at Denver. Stat Leaders: KILLS- Lisa Hunter (4.86/game), ASSISTS- Clare Maxwell (12.36/game), ACES- Alyta Baris (0.89/game), DIGS- Alyssa Hampton (3.43/game), BLOCKS- Emmy Davidsmeyer (1.14/game).

Bruins Sweep Hawaiian Airlines Classic
UCLA swept through the Hawaiian Airlines Classic tournament field last weekend, posting three-game victories over Colorado, then-No. 5 Florida and then-No. 7 Hawai'i. Three Bruins were named to the All-Tournament team, including Katie Carter, Nellie Spicer and Tournament MVP Nana Meriwether. UCLA's impressive performance in the islands precipitated a jump in the polls as the Bruins moved from No. 10 up seven spots to No. 3 in the AVCA Poll.

Meriwether's performance at the Hawaiian Airlines Classic was nothing short of remarkable as the senior middle blocker posted a stunning .875 attack percentage against the Gators with 22 kills on 24 attacks with just one error. She was rewarded for her efforts by earning Pac-10 and Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week honors. She is the fourth Bruin in history to earn the AVCA National Player of the Week honor, joining Annett Buckner (Oct. 17, 1994), Kristee Porter (Oct. 19, 1998) and Nellie Spicer (Nov. 14, 2005) on that elite list.

Once again, the Bruins spread their offense all over the court and the team finished with an attack percentage of .320 or higher in all three matches. Against Colorado, Carter led the team with 10 kills, but Meriwether and Rachell Johnson were close behind with eight kills apiece. Meriwether chipped in 10 block assists to finish with 13 points in the match. The following night it was Meriwether who led the team with 22 kills, while Ali Daley followed with 15 and Johnson with 10 as UCLA hit an eye-popping .352 as a team for the contest.

Sunday's match with the host Rainbow Wahine saw Carter hit .425 for the match with 21 kills on 40 swings. Meriwether joined her in double figure kills with 12 and four block assists.

Banachowski Enters 40th Season
A dramatic five-game upset win over then-undefeated Washington on Nov. 12, 2005, made UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski the first women's Division I volleyball coach to win 1,000 career matches. Banachowski, who holds a career record of 1,010-266 (.792), is in his 40th season on the Bruin bench. He trails only UCLA men's coach Al Scates and Juniata (Div. III) head women's coach Larry Bock (1,069 entering 2006) for wins by a collegiate volleyball coach.

Banachowski was an All-America setter for Scates during his collegiate career at UCLA. (Scates holds a career record of 1135-212.) The first women's volleyball coach to be inducted into the National Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, Mass., Banachowski has coached the Bruins to six national championships, including three NCAA titles (1984, `90, `91).

Name That Libero!
Head coach Andy Banachowski used three different players at the libero position at the Bearcat Invitational. Senior Laura Kroneberger started all three matches, but played only in the opening game of each match. Jordan Smith, who wore the libero jersey for the bulk of the 2005 campaign, played six of the remaining seven available games at libero with Jade Machado wearing the off-colored jersey in game three vs. Tennessee Tech.

Kroneberger averaged 5.00 digs per game with three against TTU, four against Western Michigan and eight against host Cincinnati. Machado notched two digs in her appearance against the Golden Eagles while Smith averaged 6.00 digs per game on the weekend, topping out with a 20-dig performance in three games against Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon.

Banachowski used Smith exclusively at the Hawaiian Airlines Classic. During tournament play, she had 24 digs and one service ace over nine games on the floor.

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