Fifth-Ranked Bruins Head to Northern California to Play Two Top-10 Teams

Sept. 24, 2007


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#5 UCLA (12-1, 2-0 Pac-10) at #10 California (10-2, 0-1 Pac-10)
Thursday, Sept. 27
Berkeley, Calif.
Haas Pavilion
7 p.m.
Live: Gametracker

#5 UCLA (12-1, 2-0 Pac-10) at #2 Stanford (12-0, 1-0 Pac-10)
Friday, Sept. 28
Stanford, Calif.
Maples Pavilion
7 p.m.
Live: Gametracker
TV: CSTV (Tape Delay - Airing Sept. 30 at 5 p.m.)

The fifth-ranked Bruins (12-1, 2-0 Pac-10) make their first conference road trip this week, heading north to face a pair of Top 10 teams. UCLA faces 10th-ranked California (10-2, 0-1 Pac-10) on Thursday at 7 p.m. and #2 Stanford (12-0, 1-0 Pac-10) on Friday at 7 p.m. Both matches will feature Gametracker on the home school's respective websites, while Friday's contest against the Cardinal will be aired on tape delay on CSTV with Anne Marie Anderson and former UCLA setter Holly McPeak calling all the action. The first airing of the match will be on Sunday at 5 p.m.

For the fifth straight week, UCLA maintained its position of fifth in this week's CSTV/AVCA Top 25 poll. The Bruins gained four points in the poll and have gained points in four of the five rankings, but have kept their spot of fifth since the preseason poll. UCLA has now been ranked in the AVCA Top 5 in 20 of the last 21 rankings. In last week's Molten Volleyball Magazine poll, the Bruins stayed at fifth.

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.

Since Pac-10 Conference play began in 1986, the Bruins are 16-5 in road conference openers. On four occasions, UCLA has opened its Pac-10 road slate at California and are 3-1 in those meetings.

California saw its five-match winning streak snapped in its Pac-10 opener last Friday, falling to Stanford in Berkeley in four games. The Golden Bears won the first game 30-27, but dropped the last three 30-26, 32-30, 30-25. Cal is led offensively by senior Angie Pressey and sophomore Hana Cutura, who both average more than three kills a game. Pressey averages 3.28 kpg to go along with 2.62 digs and 1.00 blocks per game, while Cutura is posting 3.26 kpg and 1.94 dpg. Freshman setter Carli Lloyd is averaging 11.49 assists and 1.46 digs per game. Cal is hitting .298 as a team, averaging 3.90 blocks, 2.18 aces and 12.28 digs per game. Rich Feller is in his ninth season as the head coach at Cal and owns a record of 149-102. In 22-plus years of coaching, Feller is 448-269. UCLA leads the all-time series with California 49-1 and has won three straight. Last year, the Bruins won in three at home and claimed a four-game victory in Berkeley. Cal's only victory in the series came on Sept. 23, 2005 in Berkeley when the Golden Bears swept the Bruins. UCLA is 20-1 all-time in Berkeley.

Stanford has been ranked second the entire season and have a tough test with a pair of Top 5 teams coming into Maples Pavilion this week. The Cardinal look to maintain their perfect 12-0 record, as they host #4 USC on Thursday before entertaining the Bruins on Friday. The Cardinal had one common opponent with the Bruins during the preseason. Stanford beat San Diego in three, while the Toreros took the Bruins to five games. Stanford is led offensively by the three-headed attack of freshman Alix Klineman and juniors Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo. Klineman leads the team with 4.27 kills and 2.03 digs per game, while Barboza is right behind her at 4.05 kpg and 3.11 dpg. Akinradewo is just shy of the 4.00 threshold, averaging 3.95 kpg and 1.35 blocks per game. Senior setter Bryn Kehoe leads the conference with 13.97 assists per game, also posting 2.84 dpg. The Cardinal are hitting .316 as a team, averaging 2.60 blocks, 1.41 aces and 16.49 digs per game. After holding a 31-13 lead in the all-time series, Stanford has won 12 straight and 22 of the last 25 from UCLA to take a 35-34 advantage. Last season at Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins dropped the final two games in losing in five. In the match at Stanford, the Cardinal won in four games. UCLA's last victory in the series came in a three-game win at home in 2000, part of a two-match sweep that season. The Bruins are 11-18 all-time at Stanford and 16-26 in Pac-10 action.

Over the last five seasons, UCLA has played twice on September 28, as it will again on Friday at Stanford. And in both those matches this decade, the Bruins have won in five games and come back after dropping the first two. In 2002, UCLA was hosting Washington State and fell behind early, losing game one 30-25 and game two 30-26. But the Bruins fought back in the third and the fourth, winning with the identical scores they lost to in the first two sets. In the fifth, UCLA completed the comeback with a 15-12 win to knock off the 18th-ranked Cougars. Last season in the midst of their season-opening win streak, the Bruins were 15-0 and ranked third, taking on No. 4 Washington. UCLA dropped the first two by scores of 30-28 and 30-23 before steam rolling to a 30-21 victory in game three. The Bruins never trailed in game four, but the set was tied seven times, with UCLA eventually recording a narrow 31-29 win to force a fifth game. Just like in game four, the Bruins never trailed and came away with a 15-13 victory and their 16th straight win.

The Bruins sustained their serving prowess last week against Arizona and Arizona State, recording 12 aces over the two matches to give them 45 over the last six, an average of 7.7 per contest. Junior Ali Daley led the way with four aces last week, while senior Meghan Schoen and juniors Kaitlin Sather and Nellie Spicer had two each. UCLA had a season-high 10 against Southern Mississippi on Sept. 8, marking the second match in a streak of six in which the Bruins had at least six aces. Two weeks ago at the USD Tournament, senior Rachell Johnson had eight aces in the three-match tournament, including a career-high six against San Diego on Sept. 15. She doesn't lead the team though. That status goes to Daley, who has 16 aces to Johnson's 15. Sather is third with 19.

After going four straight matches below double figures in blocks, the Bruins rebounded with 14.5 blocks in both matches last week. Junior Ali Daley tied a career high with seven, including two solo blocks against Arizona and followed that with a six-block performance against Arizona State. But the big blocking effort last week goes to senior Rachell Johnson, who had eight against Arizona and set a personal best with 11 against Arizona State. Johnson broke out of her blocking slump after posting just 11 in her previous five matches. The Bruins had three players with at least five blocks against the Sun Devils, with junior Kaitlin Sather adding five. With their 54 blocks, the Bruins vaulted from eighth to fifth in the Pac-10 in blocks.

Junior setter Nellie Spicer continues to live up to her status as arguably the best setter in the country. Spicer moved past Krystal McFarland into fourth on UCLA's all-time assists list on Friday against Arizona State. Her first assist in the third game gave her 3,672 for her career, one better than McFarland. Spicer ended the ASU match with 45 assists and has 3,683 for her career. Spicer has already passed three players on the assists list this season and should move into third later this year. Next up on the list is Julie Bremner and her 4,089 assists. Spicer had double-doubles in both matches last week, recording 56 assists and 13 digs against Arizona and 45 assists and 10 digs against Arizona State, to give her six on the season and 37 for her career. The junior has earned All-Tournament honors in all four tournaments the Bruins have played in, earning MVP accolades at the Hawaiian Airlines Classic and the UC Irvine Invitational. Spicer is third in the Pac-10 in assists at 13.07 apg and was 23rd in last week's NCAA rankings. She is also third on the Bruins' squad in digs per game at 2.98.

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 equaled her double-double total from last season in just the 12th match of 2007 after recording 13 kills and 13 digs against Arizona for her sixth of the year. The team leader in aces served three against the Wildcats and added blocking to her repertoire, posting seven, including two block solos. The next night against Arizona State, Daley led the Bruins in kills for the seventh time this season with 15, adding eight digs and six more blocks. Two weeks ago, Daley set her UCLA career high with 21 kills against San Diego. Daley has twice earned All-Tournament Team honors this season at the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase and the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic. Her 4.00 kpg and eight double-figure kills matches lead the team and are eighth in the Pac-10. She is also fifth in the Pac-10 in points per game and seventh in aces per game. Daley, who has six contests with at least 10 digs, is second on the team with 3.13 digs per game.

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 her final campaign in Westwood. Johnson set a personal best with 11 blocks against Arizona State on Friday and added eight more against Arizona on Thursday. Johnson had 13 kills to go with her eight blocks against the Wildcats, adding six digs. Against the Sun Devils, the senior notched her first career double-double with 14 kills and 11 blocks. Johnson moved into the team lead in blocks per game at 1.27 and is 10th among Pac-10 players. She is also third on the team in kills per game at 3.63, posting nine matches with double figures in kills and leading the team in that category three times. The team leader in aces a year ago, Johnson is second on the team with 15 and set a career high with six on Sept. 15 at San Diego.

Junior Kaitlin Sather opened Pac-10 Conference play in style last week, hitting .400 in matches against Arizona and Arizona State in leading the Bruins to a pair of wins. Sather averaged 4.43 kills and 3.00 digs per game last week while hitting .441, starting out with a match-best and season-high 17 kills against Arizona. Sather hit a season-best .467 against the Wildcats, committing just three errors in 30 attempts. One night later against Arizona State, Sather posted her fifth double-double of the year with 14 kills and 13 digs. She also hit .414, making just two errors in 29 swings. Sather sits second on the team at 3.64 kpg and is fourth at 2.77 dpg. She had eight double-figure kills matches and had led the Bruins in that category in three contests this season.

A person can really stand out 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 had a lucky number 13 digs in both matches last week to giving her 10 matches with double-figures in digs in 13 contests played. Her season and career high of 17 came against Louisville on Aug. 31 and was the second of five straight matches with double figures in kills. Machado's 3.58 digs per game leads the team and ranks her eighth in the Pac-10.

Freshman Juliane Piggott, who celebrates her 18th birthday on Thursday, posted the first double-figure kills match of her career against Arizona on Thursday, recording 10 kills with just two errors in 22 swings ... freshman Katie Mills made her first collegiate start on Friday against Arizona State. She posted a career-high six kills ... sophomore Emily Clements injured her right knee in the first game of the match against Cal State Northridge on Sept. 14 and will miss the remainder of the season. Clements will be eligible to apply for a medical redshirt, having played in less than 30 percent of UCLA's matches and will still have three years of eligibility left beginning with the 2008 season ... junior transfer Laura Holloway, who has yet to play this year, will sit out this season with injuries and redshirt. Holloway will have two years of eligibility remaining at the start of the 2008 campaign.

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