Fifth-Ranked Bruins Travel to Irvine for 2007 Southern California Debut

Sept. 4, 2007


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#5 UCLA (4-1) at UC Irvine (6-0)
Friday, Sept. 7
Irvine, Calif.
Crawford Court
7 p.m.
Live Audio:
Live Stats:

#5 UCLA (4-1) vs. William and Mary (3-2)
Saturday, Sept. 8
Irvine, Calif.
Crawford Court
11 a.m.
Live Stats:

#5 UCLA (4-1) vs. Southern Mississippi (1-5)
Saturday, Sept. 8
Irvine, Calif.
Crawford Court
5 p.m.
Live Stats:

After a pair of road trips that took them to Nebraska and Hawaii, the fifth-ranked UCLA women's volleyball team plays in Southern California for the first time this season when they travel to the UC Irvine/Nike Invitational. The Bruins (4-1) will face the host Anteaters (6-0) on Friday at 7 p.m., with that match broadcast live on with Darren Preston at the call. On Saturday, UCLA faces William and Mary (3-2) at 11 a.m. and Southern Mississippi (1-5) at 5 p.m. Gametracker will be available for Saturday's matches on UCI's website,

UCLA maintained its fifth position in this week's CSTV/AVCA Top 25 poll. For the second straight week, the Bruins gained more points in the poll, picking up 23 points after attaining 16 more the week before. UCLA has now been ranked in the AVCA Top 5 in 17 of the last 18 rankings. In the Molten Volleyball Magazine poll, the Bruins dropped one spot to fifth, the same as their preseason ranking, after jumping up to fourth in the previous poll.

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.

UC Irvine will look to keep its undefeated season alive when it travels to Loyola Marymount for a Tuesday night match, before returning to Crawford Court to host its second straight tournament. The Anteaters have won three-game matches against Canisius, Toledo and Portland, four-game contests against Montana and Gonzaga and a five-game match against Wyoming this season. UCI has four players averaging at least two kills per game, led by freshman Kari Pestolesi, who is recording 3.33 kpg. Following her are junior Lauren Kellerman (3.20 kpg), senior Kristin Kelley (2.60) and sophomore Alexandra Filkins (2.30). Charlie Brande is in his seventh year as head coach and sports a 103-111 career record coming into this week's action. The Bruins have never lost to the Anteaters, holding a 9-0 series advantage. The last meeting came in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Pauley Pavilion in 2003, with the Bruins coming out on top 30-24, 30-28, 30-22. The 2003 meeting was the first matchup between the Bruins and the Anteaters since 1983. UCLA has played only once on UC Irvine's home court, playing there in 1975. All-time, the Bruins are 216-45 (.828) against the Big West Conference.

William and Mary went 2-1 at its own tournament last weekend, beating East Carolina in three and Southern Illinois in five, while losing to Kent State in four. During the first weekend of play, the Tribe lost at Virginia Tech in four and beat Marshall in five. William and Mary has five players averaging at least two kills per game and are led by junior Abbi Owens, who is at 3.00 kpg as well as 3.58 digs per game. Sophomore Lindsey Pflugner is averaging 2.85 kills and digs per game, while sophomores Bryana Carey (2.57) and Jillian Brown (2.38) and freshman Erin Skipper (2.33) are also above two kills per game. Debbie Hill is in her 30th year as the head coach of William and Mary and holds a overall record of 555-394. The Bruins have never played the Tribe and have faced just one team from the 12-team Colonial Athletic Association. UCLA won at Towson in three games last year on Sept. 12.

Southern Mississippi has struggled to a 1-5 start this season and will host Alcorn State on Tuesday before heading west. The Golden Eagles have lost in straight sets to Cincinnati, Oakland, Maryland and Central Arkansas and in four to Louisiana Tech. USM's lone win came last weekend at the Louisiana Tech Tournament against Jackson State. The Golden Eagles have three players averaging at least three kills per game, led by senior Morgan Johnson (3.16) and junior Ashley Petrinec (3.16, 3.26 digs per game). Senior Mari Ruddick, one of two Californians on the team, is third with 3.00 kpg, also adding 2.80 dpg. Ricci Luyties, an alum of UCLA, is in his fourth season at Southern Miss and holds an overall record of 28-57. The Bruins' only match against the Golden Eagles came on Sept. 3, 2004 in College Station, Texas. UCLA beat USM in three, 30-18, 30-22, 30-20. The Bruins are 12-1 all-time against the 12-team Conference USA, with the lone loss coming at the hands of Houston.

Junior Nellie Spicer was named Most Valuable Player of the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic after leading the Bruins to the tournament title. Joining Spicer on the All-Tournament Team were senior Rachell Johnson and junior Ali Daley. For Daley and Spicer, it is the second All-Tournament Team honor for both after they were each named to the team at the season-opening AVCA College Volleyball Showcase.

Junior setter Nellie Spicer continues to live up to her status as arguably one of the best setters in the country. Spicer was named the Most Valuable Player of the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic, as the Bruins defeated Louisville, 25th-ranked Kansas State and #16 Hawai'i to take the tournament crown. After posting 40 assists with eight digs and four kills in a three-game victory over Louisville on Friday, Spicer posted a double-double with 45 assists and 12 digs while adding six kills in a four-game win over Kansas State. In the tournament championship match, Spicer registered a career-high eight kills, also producing 38 assists, seven digs and three blocks. Spicer took 30 swings during the tournament and posted 18 kills for a .433 hitting percentage. She averaged 12.30 assists and 2.70 digs per game. At the season-opening AVCA College Volleyball Showcase, Spicer moved past Kelly Flannigan for sixth all-time in assists at UCLA. With her 40th assist this weekend, Spicer, who enters the week with 3,361 assists, will jump past Kim Coleman (3,400) for fifth all-time. On the season, her 12.59 assists per game rank third in the Pac-10, while her 3.29 digs are ninth.

At her current pace, junior outside hitter Ali Daley is going to have more double-doubles than an In-N-Out drive-thru window. After recording just six double-doubles in her first year at UCLA in 2006, Daley is halfway to that total after posting her third of the season in the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic championship match against Hawai'i on Monday. Daley had 11 kills and a match-high 13 digs en route to earning All-Tournament Team honors for the second straight weekend. Daley's double-double binge began at the season-opening AVCA College Volleyball Showcase. After leading the Bruins in kills with 11 and digs with 13 in their season-opening win over Utah, Daley had another double-double a day later against #1 Nebraska with 19 kills and 18 digs. Ten of her 19 kills came in the Bruins' game-two victory over the Huskers. The 19 kills evened her previous UCLA career best set at Maryland on Sept. 16, 2006, while her 18 digs broke her previous Bruin high of 15 against Nebraska in last year's national semifinal. Daley's 3.76 kpg and 3.59 dpg both lead the team, with her digs total places her eighth in the Pac-10.

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 the first two weeks of her final campaign in Westwood. Johnson has been a blocking machine through the first five matches, posting 1.29 blocks per game to lead the team and rank just outside the Top 10 in the Pac-10. In UCLA's season-opening victory against Utah, Johnson had one block solo and seven assists for eight blocks, which was just one shy of her career high. After nearly setting a career high in blocks against the Utes, Johnson almost posted a new career high in kills one night later against #1 Nebraska. She tied for the team lead with 19 kills, committing only two errors and hitting a remarkable .500. The effort was just two off her personal best of 21. Adding in her four blocks and two aces, Johnson's 23 points tied a career best, which she set against Washington on Nov. 12, 2005. Last weekend in Hawai'i, Johnson maintained her stellar hitting percentage, which is now a team-best .385. For the weekend, the senior hit .391, recording 32 kills and committing just seven errors in 64 swings. In Monday's tournament championship match, Johnson had just one error in 22 swings with 10 kills. On the season, she is also second on the team in kills (3.41).

NOW STARRING ... Emily Clements
During her freshman campaign in 2006, Emily Clements played in just 16 games and 10 matches, but posted 1.69 kills per game and a .321 hitting percentage in limited action. Now given a chance to start in her sophomore season of 2007, Clements is making the most of it. Having equaled her games played total in just the first two weeks of this season. The sophomore is fourth on the team at 2.50 kills per game and hit an outstanding .415 last weekend at the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic. Against Kansas State on Sunday, Clements posted career highs in kills with 13 and hitting percentage at .571, committing only one error in 21 chances. She also tied a career high with five blocks. One night later in the tournament championship match, Clements notched her second straight match with double figures in kills with 12 against Hawai'i. She had three errors in 20 swings for a .450 hitting percentage. After misfiring on four swings in the first match of the tournament against Louisville, Clements had only four the rest of the weekend in more than three times as many attempts.

Junior Kaitlin Sather returned to UCLA's starting lineup at the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic and paid immediate dividends, posting one double-double and almost notching two more. After missing the second match of the season against #1 Nebraska because of family obligations, Sather had 12 kills and 10 digs in the Bruins' win over Louisville on Friday for her 18th career double-double. Against Kansas State on Sunday, the junior had eight kills and nine digs, and then reversed those totals the next night against Hawai'i, posting nine kills and eight digs with four blocks. On the year, Sather is third on the team with 2.77 kills per game and fourth in digs at 2.62.

A person can really standout 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 extended her double-figure digs streak to four with three more 10-plus dig matches in Hawaii. The junior had a career-high 17 digs against Louisville on Friday and followed that up with 15 against Kansas State on Sunday and 13 against Hawai'i on Monday. Machado leads the team in digs and is one of three Bruins in the Top 10 in the Pac-10. Machado's 4.06 digs per game place her sixth in the conference.

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