Busy Week Ahead for UCLA Women's Volleyball

Nov. 19, 2007

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#10 UCLA (18-9) at Pepperdine (18-9)
Tuesday, November 20
Malibu, Calif.
Firestone Fieldhouse
7 p.m.
Live: Audio, Stats

#10 UCLA (18-9, 8-8 Pac-10) at Arizona State (15-14, 7-9 Pac-10)
Friday, November 23
Tempe, Ariz.
Wells Fargo Arena
6 p.m. PT
Live: Gametracker

#10 UCLA (18-9, 8-8 Pac-10) at Arizona (13-16, 3-13 Pac-10)
Saturday, November 24
Tucson, Ariz.
McKale Center
6 p.m. PT
Live: Gametracker

The 10th-ranked Bruins (18-9, 8-8 Pac-10) play three matches in five days this week as they wrap up the regular season on the road. On Tuesday, UCLA heads to Malibu for its annual showdown with Pepperdine (18-9) at 7 p.m. The Bruins then finish up the Pac-10 schedule with contests at Arizona State (15-14, 7-9) on Friday and Arizona (13-16, 3-13) on Saturday. Both matches begin at 6 p.m. PT. Live stats will be available for all three matches on the school's respective websites, while Tuesday's match at Pepperdine can be heard on UCLABruins.com with Darren Preston at the call. On Sunday, the Bruins will find out where their postseason begins as the NCAA reveals the 64-team bracket at 5 p.m. on ESPNU.

The Bruins remained at 10th for the second straight week in the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 poll. The Pac-10, the toughest conference in the nation, boasts six of the top 13 teams in the country. Stanford, USC, Washington and California rank fourth through seventh, respectively, while Oregon resides at 13th. For the first time since Nov. 13, 2006, the Bruins dropped out of the top five of the rankings after their loss to Oregon State on Oct. 12. In last week's Molten Volleyball Magazine poll, the Bruins were also ranked 10th.

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.

Pepperdine has lost two of its last three after a five-match winning streak to finish third in the West Coast Conference with a 9-5 league mark. Each of the Waves' last three losses have been in five games. Pepperdine holds an 8-3 home record this year and is 1-1 against the Pac-10 with a sweep over Arizona and a three-game loss to USC. The Waves are led by junior Julie Rubenstein, whose all-around play puts her in the team lead in kills per game (4.42) and digs per game (2.97). Senior Lecca Roberts is second on the team at 3.02 kpg, while sophomore Rachel Lumsden is third at 2.99 kpg. Sophomore Kiah Fiers handles the setting duties with 12.82 assists per game for the Waves, who hit .276 on the season with 15.67 digs per game and 2.33 blocks per game. Former Bruin great Nina Matthies is in her 25th year as the head coach of Pepperdine and holds a 474-284 record.

The Bruins and the Waves have met at least once a year since 1976, with UCLA holding a 46-11 all-time series lead. The Bruins snapped a five-match losing streak in 2005 in Malibu and have won each of the last two meetings in five games. In fact, the last four matchups have all gone the distance. Last season, Nana Meriwether had 18 kills and 11 blocks to lead the Bruins back from a 2-1 deficit to win. Game scores were 30-25, 26-30, 26-30, 30-24, 15-5. In the deciding fifth game, UCLA did not commit a hitting error and hit .254 for the match with 22.5 team blocks. UCLA is 11-6 all-time in Malibu.

Arizona State needs to win one of its final two matches to become eligible for the postseason, but faces a tough task with a pair of Top 10 teams coming to Tempe in UCLA and USC. The Sun Devils have an impressive win at Oregon to their credit, but have stumbled in three of their last four. The offense is led by freshman outside hitter Sarah Reaves, who is averaging 4.33 kills per game with 2.46 digs per game. Junior outside hitter Margie Giordano is also above three kills a game at 3.53 with 2.53 dpg. Sophomore Marina Mercer leads the setting position with 12.46 assists per game and senior Sydney Donahue is the Pac-10's all-time leader in digs, averaging 6.17 dpg this season. Brad Saindon is in his fifth year as head coach at Arizona State and has a 58-84 record to go along with a 302-224 career mark in 16-plus seasons of coaching.

UCLA improved to 57-6 all-time against Arizona State with a three-game sweep of the Sun Devils on Sept. 21. Game scores were 30-18, 30-21, 30-25. Senior Rachell Johnson (14 kills, 11 blocks) and juniors Kaitlin Sather (14 kills, 13 digs) and Nellie Spicer (45 assists, 10 digs) all had double-doubles for the Bruins, who hit .316 with 14.5 team blocks. Sarah Reaves paced Arizona State with 12 kills and 10 digs, but the Sun Devils hit just .162 with four blocks. The Bruins will ride a 10-match series winning streak into Tempe, where UCLA is 24-4 all-time. Arizona State's only win in the last 23 overall matchups came in Tempe, a four-game win on Sept. 21, 2002.

Arizona has dropped 11 of its last 12 heading into this week's play, with the lone victory coming against Washington State on Nov. 2. Excluding the win, the Wildcats have won just five games over the last dozen contests. Junior Randy Goodenough leads the Arizona hitting attack with 3.80 kills per game, while freshman Tiffany Owens is second at 3.43 kpg. Freshman Paige Weber sets the offense with 12.22 assists per game, while senior Dominique Lamb has a team-best 1.50 blocks per game. The Wildcats are hitting .209 as a team with 15.50 digs and 2.99 blocks per game. David Rubio, in his 16th year at Arizona, has a 304-174 mark with the Wildcats and a 426-240 record in 20-plus seasons of coaching.

Arizona took the first game from UCLA on Sept. 20, but the Bruins won the final three to triumph in four. Game scores were 27-30, 33-31, 30-19, 30-27. Juniors Ali Daley (13 kills, 13 digs) and Nellie Spicer (56 assists, 13 digs) each posted double-doubles. The Bruins had 14.5 team blocks, with senior Rachell Johnson recording eight and Daley adding seven. Tiffany Owens led the Wildcats' offense with 15 kills, while Dominique Lamb had seven blocks on defense. The Bruins lead the all-time series 45-16 and have won three straight. UCLA holds a 20-9 edge in Tucson.

The strongest part of the UCLA women's volleyball team match after match is their defense, with the Bruins' blocking and digging rising to the occasion against some of the most powerful offenses in the nation. UCLA set a season high in blocks against Oregon State on Nov. 8, posting 20. Four different players had at least five blocks, led by a career-best 10 for freshman Katie Mills. Senior Rachell Johnson had eight, while junior Ali Daley and freshman Dicey McGraw each posted five. The Bruins have double figures in blocks in 11 of the last 16 matches. Mills leads the team in blocks at 1.42 per game and would be fourth among Pac-10 players, but she has not played in the necessary 66.7 percent of games to qualify. Mills' 1.42 bpg in conference matches places her second in the Pac-10. She also has posted a team-leading 10 matches with at least five blocks. Johnson, who posted a UCLA season-high 11 blocks against Arizona State on Sept. 21, has eight matches with at least five blocks, while Daley has six. Away from the net, junior Jessica Fine became the first player since Jordan Smith in 2005 to post 30 digs in one match against Oregon State. Fine, who made her first start at libero since Oct. 8 against the Beavers, had a pair of double-figure digs matches last week to give her eight on the season. Daley and junior Jade Machado lead the Bruins with 19 double-figure digs contests, while junior Nellie Spicer has 17. Machado's career-high in digs came against Oregon State on Oct. 12, recording 29, while Daley had a personal-best 25 against the Beavers. As a team, the Bruins are first in the Pac-10 averaging 18.73 digs per game.

In the Bruins' first matchup against Oregon State on Oct. 12 at Pauley Pavilion, junior Ali Daley became the first UCLA player since Ashley Bowles in 2001 to post a 20-20 match, recording 26 kills and 25 digs. UCLA's second matchup against Oregon State on Nov. 8 proved to be another historic contest, with two players passing the 1,000-career kill mark and another posting the Bruins' first 30-dig match since 2005. Junior Jessica Fine had 30 digs to become the first Bruin since Jordan Smith (32) to accomplish that feat. Meanwhile, Daley reached another milestone with her 1,000th career kill against the Beavers. With 367 of Daley's kills coming during her freshman season at Long Beach State, she will have to wait one more season to join UCLA's 1,000-kill club, which welcomed its 23rd member when junior Kaitlin Sather joined the grand club against Oregon State.

The Bruins remained as the top-ranked digging team in the Pac-10, averaging 18.73 digs per game. UCLA is also in the top half of the conference in blocks (3rd, 3.00), kills (4th, 16.32), assists (4th, 15.17) and aces per game (5th, 1.48). Individually, Ali Daley is in the Top 10 in aces per game (7th, 0.35), digs (9th, 3.61) and points per game (9th, 4.73), while Nellie Spicer is third in assists at 12.69 apg. Rachell Johnson is ninth in blocks per game at 1.17 and Jade Machado is 10th in digs per game at 3.60.

Junior setter Nellie Spicer continues to live up to her status as arguably the best setter in the country and will soon be considered the best setter in UCLA history. Spicer moved past Julie Bremner for third on UCLA's all-time assists list on Oct. 27 against California. With 4,340 assists for her career, Spicer will remain in third for the rest of the season before embarking on her trek towards the top of the standings in 2008. Second-place Ann Boyer has 5,667 assists, while the school leader is Erika Selsor at 6,234. Spicer posted her 17th double-double of the season on Friday against Washington State with 47 assists and 16 digs, giving her 45 for her career. Spicer is third in the Pac-10 in assists at 12.69 apg.

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 had double-doubles in both matches last week to give her 19 on the season and 25 for her UCLA career. Daley had a career night against Oregon State on Oct. 12. Despite the loss to the Beavers, Daley had 26 kills and 25 digs to post her first-ever 20-20 match. She was the first Bruin to attain a 20-20 contest since Ashley Bowles on Nov. 2, 2001. Daley has led the Bruins in kills 15 times this season, including six straight from Sept. 21 to Oct. 18, and also has a team-best 24 matches with double figures in kills. Her 3.90 kpg and 3.61 digs per game lead the team. Daley is also seventh in the conference in aces and ninth in digs and points per game.

Junior Kaitlin Sather led the Bruins in kills in both matches last week, also posting a pair of double-doubles to give her 15 on the season. Sather had 17 kills with 12 digs against Washington State and added 16 kills with 15 digs against Washington. She has eight straight double-doubles and 32 for her career. Sather became the 23rd Bruin to surpass the 1,000 career kill mark against Oregon State on Nov. 8. With 1,051 kills as a Bruin, Sather is 22nd on the UCLA all-time list and is on her way to becoming the 11th member of the 1,000-kill, 1,000-dig club next year. Sather's season high in kills came against Stanford on Oct. 26, posting 20. She has led the team in kills 10 times this season and has double figures in kills in 18 of the last 19 matches. The junior is second on the team in kills per game at 3.58 and third with 2.92 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 moved into ninth in the Pac-10 in blocks per game after totaling 13 in a pair of matches last weekend. The senior nearly recorded her second career double-double with nine kills and nine blocks against Washington State. Johnson has eight matches with at least five blocks this season, adding 19 contests with at least 10 kills on the offensive end. Johnson has led the Bruins in kills five times this season and blocks 12 times. Her personal high in blocks came against Arizona State on Sept. 21. She had 11 roofs and 14 kills for her first career double-double. Offensively, Johnson is third on the team at 3.38 kills per game. Johnson's season best of 19 kills came against Nebraska on Aug. 25. The senior has hit better than .400 for a match on seven occasions and leads the team with a .291 hitting percentage.

Sophomore Diana Douglas registered her first career kill on her first attack against Washington State on Friday. Playing in just her fourth career game, the kill was the match-clincher in the three-game sweep of Cougars ... against Washington, Meghan Schoen got the start on Senior Night, making her first start since Sept. 20 against Arizona ... on Nov. 9 against Oregon, freshman Dicey McGraw made her first start since Oct. 12. She had nine kills, her best output since a career-high 18 against the Ducks on Oct. 11. McGraw came off the bench in both matches last week ... the four Bruins to post double-doubles against Oregon State on Nov. 8 (Daley, Mills, Sather and Spicer) marked the first time UCLA has done that since Sept. 3, 2005 at Nevada ... against Oregon, UCLA went without a service ace for the first time since Nov. 22, 2002 against Arizona ... the Bruins have just five home victories this season, their lowest total since 1997.

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