Women's Volleyball Opens Home Schedule Thursday

Sept. 27, 2006

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After five weekends of road trips and 15 matches played outside of the state of California, the UCLA women's volleyball team will play its first home matches of the 2006 season this week. The Bruins play host to defending NCAA Champion Washington on Thursday night before welcoming Washington State on Friday. Both matches are scheduled for 7 pm starts in Pauley Pavilion. Thursday also marks the first day of classes at UCLA, which operates on a nine-week quarter system. Despite traveling over 30,000 air miles since the start of the season on August 26, UCLA has played in three different time zones with two trips east of the Mississippi River and one to Hawaii without any missed class time.

Thursday night's 7 pm home women's volleyball showdown between No. 3 and unbeaten UCLA and fourth-ranked and defending NCAA champion Washington will be broadcast live and free over the Internet at www.uclabruins.com

Darren Preston will return as the voice this year of UCLA volleyball to call the action along with ESPN volleyball researcher Michael Sondheimer. All UCLA home matches along with the USC road match on Oct. 20, plus the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament will be broadcast live and free over the Internet at www.uclabruins.com

The broadcast will be available free on the UCLA `All-Access' page. It is a big weekend of free events with women's volleyball on Friday vs. Washington State as well as soccer doubleheaders on Friday and Sunday.

UCLA vs. Washington Huskies (12-1, 2-0 Pac-10)
The defending NCAA Champion Huskies have won 11 straight matches including a pair of home wins over Cal and Stanford last weekend. Thursday night's match is the home opener for the Bruins and is the first meeting between UCLA and Washington since the Bruins handed UW its only loss of the 2005 season, a win that was the 1,000th victory of Andy Banachowski's career. UCLA leads the all-time series 39-10 and the home team won both meetings last season. UW is coached by Jim McLaughlin who is in his seventh year with the Huskies. Stat Leaders: KILLS- Christal Morrison (4.51/game), ASSISTS- Courtney Thompson (14.44/game), ACES- Christal Morrison (0.44/game), DIGS- Tamari Miyashiro (4.00/game), BLOCKS- Jessica Swarbrick (1.41/game).

UCLA vs. Washington State Cougars (12-4, 0-2 Pac-10)
Washington State opened Pac-10 play with a pair of losses to top-10 teams last weekend as they played host to Stanford and Cal. The Cougars enter Friday night's match at USC having lost three straight matches, having lost at Idaho on Sept. 15. UCLA holds a 33-7 all-time record against WSU with the Bruins winning both of last year's meetings and a total of six straight matches dating back to a five-game loss in Pullman in 2002. Washington State is coached by Brian Heffernan, who is in his third year with the Cougars. Stat Leaders: KILLS- Adetokumbo Faleti (4.20/game), ASSISTS- Corina Beyer (12.79/game), ACES- Tara West (0.35/game), DIGS- Kelly Hyder (5.31/game), BLOCKS- Tara West (1.29/game).

UCLA Sweeps Oregon Schools, Opens Pac-10 2-0
The Bruins opened Pac-10 play with an impressive pair of victories in the state of Oregon, downing Oregon 30-22, 30-13, 30-20 on Thursday night before posting a 30-21, 30-18,30-14 win in Corvallis on Friday. Both opponents hit under .100 as a team for the match with the Ducks checking in at .015 and Oregon State finishing at .074.

At Oregon on Thursday night, the Pac-10 opener for both squads featured a 16-kill performance from sophomore Ali Daley who had a match-high 18 points on 16 kills with four block assists. She also had a season-high 13 digs to lead the Bruins in that category. Nellie Spicer piloted the Bruin offense to a .258 attack percentage and had 41 assists in the match. Nana Meriwether had 15 points on 10 kills and an impressive nine blocks, one solo and eight assists for the evening.

On Friday night at Oregon State, Spicer spread around the Bruin offense, with four players tallying double-figure kills as the Bruins hit .376 as a team. Daley once again led the team in digs with a season-high 14, followed closely by libero Jordan Smith with 13. Meriwether posted a match-high 16.5 points, hitting .700 with 14 kills on an error-free 20 attacks along with five block assists.

Meriwether Leads the Pac in Blocks, Attack Percentage
Middle blocker Nana Meriwether is having a senior season to remember. Through the opening weekend of Pac-10 play, Meriwether leads both the Pac-10 and NCAA Division I with a stunning .557 season attack percentage. She has accomplished this remarkable feat with 305 total attacks, more than seven of the other nine players on the conference top-10 list.

Additionally, Meriwether leads the conference with 1.64 blocks per game, a total that ranks 12th among NCAA Division I players through games of Sept. 24. Meriwether's 72 total blocks this season is the second-highest total among the Pac-10's top-10 in blocking. Meriwether also ranks among the Pac-10's 10-best in both points per game and kills per game, ranking fifth and seventh, respectively, in those categories.

Meriwether was named to the All-Tournament team at all four of UCLA's season-opening tournaments, earning MVP honors at the State Farm/Vernon Manor Bearcat Invitational, Hawaiian Airlines Classic and Hilton Garden Inn Greenbelt Invitational. She earned Pac-10 and Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week honors on Sept. 5, 2006, following her impressive performance at the Hawaiian Airlines Classic.

A senior from Potomac, Md., Meriwether led the Bruins to three-game sweeps of Colorado, then-No. 5 Florida and then-No. 7 Hawai'i at the Hawaiian Airlines Classic. 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 that weekend of play.

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.

Spicer Sets Bruins at Blistering Pace
Sophomore setter Nellie Spicer has the Bruins offense running at an efficient .293 attack percentage, a mark that ranks third in the conference and 13th in the nation. The Bruins lead the league in kills per game with 17.62, a mark that is second among NCAA Division I teams.

Individually, Spicer ranks second in the Pac-10 and among NCAA Division I athletes with 13.89 assists per game, behind only Washington senior Courtney Thompson. Spicer has earned All-Tournament honors at three of UCLA's four tournaments, the Hawaiian Airlines Classic, Pioneer Classic and Hilton Garden Inn Greenbelt Invitational, earning MVP honors in Denver at the Pioneer Classic.

Ali Daley Leads Bruins Through Opening Pac-10 Weekend
Sophomore outside hitter Ali Daley opened Pac-10 play with a flourish, downing double-figure kills in both the Oregon and Oregon State matches. Daley also recorded then-season high digs in both matches, posting a team-high 13 against the Ducks on Thursday night before notching a match-high 14 on Friday at Oregon State.

A transfer from Long Beach State where she was named the 2005 Big West Player of the Year, Daley has adjusted to the Bruins system and has increased her role in the UCLA offense with each match this season. Daley has a team-high 4.50 kills per game average in Pac-10 play and is second on the team with 3.43 kills/game on the season.

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 1,019-266 (.793), 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).

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