Fifth-Ranked Bruins Stage Dramatic Comeback to Beat #10 California

Sept. 27, 2007

BERKELEY - Junior Ali Daley had 18 kills, 21 digs and six blocks, while freshman Katie Mills had a personal-best 11 kills and eight blocks, as the fifth-ranked Bruins came back from two games down to beat #10 California in five for their 12th-straight victory. Game scores were 28-30, 24-30, 30-28, 31-29, 15-9.

Thursday's date was September 27, but maybe the Bruins thought it was a day later. On the last two matches UCLA played on September 28, it came back from two games down to win in five. A day earlier than usual, the Bruins staged yet another thrilling comeback to keep their winning streak intact.

The Bruins improve to 13-1 and 3-0 in Pac-10 play, while the Golden Bears fall to 10-3 and 0-2 in league action.

Junior Kaitlin Sather and freshman Dicey McGraw each added 10 kills for the Bruins, who hit just .131 for the match and didn't have one game over the .200 mark. Juniors Jade Machado and Jessica Fine each had career highs in digs with 20 and 18, respectively. Junior Nellie Spicer added a double-double with 52 assists and 13 digs.

The Golden Bears jumped out to a 6-2 lead in game one, but three straight by the Bruins cut it to 6-5. The mini-run ended with kills by Mills and Juliane Piggott. Cal got the next four points to extend its lead to 10-5, but UCLA countered with a 6-1 run to even things at 11. Sather had two kills during the run.

UCLA didn't get its first lead of the match until the 14-13 mark. With the score tied at 18, a sideout and back-to-back kills by Daley and Sather put UCLA up 21-18 and forced Cal to take a timeout. The Bruins' lead was as high as four at 23-19, but the Golden Bears came back to steal the opening game. Trailing 24-21, California netted five of the next six points to take a 26-25 lead. The teams sided out the next six points, and serving up 29-28 on game point, Ellen Orchard served an ace to give the Golden Bears a 30-28 victory. Cal hit .325 in the opening game, while UCLA struggled to a .192 hitting percentage.

In game two, the Bruins had an early lead at 3-2, but it would be the last time they led in the game. Four straight points by the Golden Bears gave them a 6-3 lead. California's lead reached 15-8 before the Bruins were forced to call a timeout. The break inspired UCLA, which scored seven of the next nine points to cut the deficit to 17-15. Piggott ended the run with two aces, causing Cal to use a timeout.

Still trailing 18-15, the Bruins netted three in a row on two kills by Daley and a block by Sather and senior Rachell Johnson to even the score at 18. But that would be as close as UCLA could get to Cal in the second game. The Golden Bears scored the next three points to take a 21-18 advantage. The Bruins got to within one on three occasions, but leading 24-23, Cal scored five straight to take a commanding 29-23 edge. The teams sided out the final two points, giving the Golden Bears a 30-24 win. The Bruins struggled to a .050 hitting percentage in the second.

After the 10-minute intermission, the Bruins came out on fire to start game three, scoring the first seven points. Sather had two kills and two blocks, while Mills had three blocks during the run. UCLA got the lead up to nine at 10-1 and 11-2 and it looked like it was going to runaway with game three. But the Golden Bears netted the next five to cut their deficit to 11-7. Cal got to within 13-11, but four straight by the Bruins made it 17-11. Spicer had a kill and a block to put UCLA up by six.

The Bruins again got the lead back up to eight at 20-12, but the Golden Bears had another comeback in them, scoring seven of the next eight to make it 21-19. Still down 25-22, another three-point run by Cal made it 25-all for the first tie since the game began. Five sideouts later, the Bruins received an attack error by Cal to take a 29-27 lead for two game points. The Bears held off UCLA on the first attempt, but McGraw's kill gave the Bruins a 30-28 win.

Game four was a back-and-forth affair and neither team led by more than two until the Bruins took a 14-11 lead. But the Golden Bears responded with an 11-3 run to take a 22-17 advantage. The Bruins battled back though with four in a row to cut the margin to 22-21. With the game tied at 26, UCLA finally got the lead back on a block by Sather and Johnson to make it 27-26. Tied at 28, the Bruins and the Golden Bears engaged in the longest rally of the match. The winning kill would come from McGraw, as UCLA had a game point at 29-28. Cal scored next to even the game at 29, but back-to-back kills by Spicer and Mills gave the Bruins game four by a 31-29 score.

Cal scored the first two points of game five, but the Bruins came back with the next six, prompting a Golden Bear timeout. UCLA received a kill from Daley and a kill and a block by Mills to go along with three Cal errors. Following the timeout, the Bruins scored three of the next five to go up 9-4. The Golden Bears rebounded with three in a row to cut it to 9-7. However, the Bruins would not be denied, scoring five of the next six points to take a 14-8 advantage. After a sideout by Cal, Johnson's kill won it and concluded the Bruins' thrilling comeback.

Cal was led by Hana Cutura's 24 kills and 14 digs, while Orchard had 14 kills and 13 blocks.

The Bruins take on second-ranked Stanford on Friday at 7 p.m. Gametracker will be available at and the match will be aired on tape delay on CSTV. The first airing will be Sunday at 5 p.m.

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