Seventh-Ranked Bruins Stay Local for Busy Four-Match Week

Sept. 15, 2009

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Wednesday, Sept. 16
7 p.m. - #7 UCLA at #25 Pepperdine

Friday, Sept. 18
7 p.m. - #7 UCLA at Cal State Fullerton

Saturday, Sept. 19
1:30 p.m. - #7 UCLA vs. Fordham
5 p.m. - #7 UCLA vs. Long Beach State

Live stats (Pepperdine only) and live audio (Pepperdine and Long Beach State only)

The seventh-ranked Bruins look to finish the non-conference schedule on a high note as they take a six-match winning streak into this week's action. First up is the annual showdown with Pepperdine in Malibu on Wednesday at 7 p.m. UCLA then heads to the Fullerton Classic where it will play the host Titans on Friday at 7 p.m. before a Saturday doubleheader against Fordham (1:30 p.m.) and Long Beach State (5 p.m.). The matches against Pepperdine and Long Beach State will feature free live audio on with Darren Preston at the call.

The Bruins begin Pac-10 Conference play next weekend with a trip to the Arizona schools. After a matchup in Tempe on Friday, Sept. 25 against Arizona State at 7 p.m., UCLA heads to Tucson to face Arizona, which enters this week's play undefeated and ranked 21st in the nation.

The Bruins moved up to seventh in this week's AVCA poll, earning 113 additional points following their 3-0 weekend at the Ameritas Players Challenge in Lincoln, Neb. UCLA has received more points than the week prior in each regular-season ranking. The Bruins are the second-highest rated Pac-10 team in the poll behind third-ranked Washington. UCLA also moved up two positions to seventh in this week's Volleyball Magazine rankings, the second consecutive week it has moved up a pair of spots. In the Pac-10 Preseason Coaches poll, the Bruins were ranked fourth behind Washington, California and Stanford.

All UCLA home matches, along with road contests at Pepperdine (Wednesday), against Long Beach State in Fullerton (Saturday) and at USC (Nov. 6), will feature live audio broadcasts at Darren Preston and Michael Sondheimer will call all the action. In addition, Gametracker or live stats will be available for all home matches and most road contests. Links can be found on the schedule page of

Saturday afternoon's match against Fordham at the Fullerton Classic has been changed to a 1:30 p.m. start time. The contest was originally scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

Pepperdine went 2-1 at its own tournament last weekend, sweeping Seattle and UC Riverside, but losing a tough, five-set contest to Army on Saturday. The only other loss this season for the Waves, who are 7-2, was a sweep at the hands of USC on Sept. 4. Pepperdine also defeated then-#24 Colorado State to start the season to give them a 1-1 record against ranked foes. The Waves are hitting .250 as a team with 1.53 aces and 1.87 blocks per set. The top offensive player is sophomore outside hitter Lilla Frederick, who is averaging 3.27 kills per set and 2.13 digs per set. Senior outside Rachel Grochmal (2.66 kps), sophomore middle blocker Kim Hill (2.48) and sophomore opposite Kristen Seaton (2.18) are also averaging at least two kills per set. Senior Kiah Fiers handles the setting duties and is averaging 10.40 assists per set, while sophomore Stevi Robinson is the top digger at 5.40 digs per set.

The Bruins and the Waves have met at least once a year since their rivalry began in 1976. UCLA has claimed four straight victories in the series to increase its lead to 48-11. Last season at Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins came back from dropping the first set to beat the Waves in four. Ali Daley led the Bruins with 20 kills, Katie Camp had 12 kills and seven blocks and Lainey Gera added 17 digs. The Bruins are 13-6 all-time in Malibu and have won the last two meetings at Firestone Fieldhouse in 2005 and 2007 in five and four sets, respectively. Pepperdine's last win in the series was a five-set victory in Westwood in 2004 and its most recent triumph in Malibu was also in five sets in 2003. Four of the last seven matches have gone five sets, while the other three went four games.

Cal State Fullerton went 1-2 last weekend at the Comcast Challenge in Albuquerque, N.M., sweeping Pittsburgh and losing in three to New Mexico and Baylor to move to 7-3 on the season. The Titans are hitting .207 as a team, averaging 1.00 aces and 2.12 blocks per set. Junior middle blocker Erin Saddler is the top player on the roster, leading the squad with 5.03 kills per set and adding 2.41 digs per set, 0.62 blocks per set and eight aces. Sophomore outside hitter Torrie Brown (2.34 kps) and senior middle blocker Alex Wolnisty (2.33) are also averaging more than two kills per set. Sophomore Andrea Ragan is the setter and posts 11.71 assists per set, while junior Cami Croteau is the top defender with 4.97 digs per set. The Bruins have never lost to the Titans in 28 meetings, dropping just two sets all-time and winning the last dozen matchups in sweeps. Last season at Fullerton, the two teams met for the first time since 2002. Dicey McGraw had 12 kills to pace the Bruins, who hit .313 as a team.

Fordham improved to 7-4 on the season after going 4-0 at its own tournament last weekend, beating Manhattan, Seton Hall, Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut all in four sets. The Rams, who play at Fairfield on Tuesday, have won five in a row and are hitting .210 as a team with 1.44 aces and 1.74 blocks per set. Junior outside hitter Kailee May leads the team with 3.33 kills and 3.35 digs per set, while juniors Christi Griffiths (2.40), Sara Friede (2.38) and Katie Wells (2.37) also average at least two kills per set. Senior Katherine Burrell quarterbacks the offense and posts 10.78 assists per set. The Bruins have never faced Fordham.

Long Beach State went 2-1 last weekend at the Tulane Sugarbowl Classic in New Orleans, beating New Orleans and Tulane in five, but falling to LSU in four. The 49ers are hitting .215 as a team, averaging 1.06 aces and 2.02 blocks per set. Senior middle blocker Naomi Washington leads the squad with 3.88 kills per set, while sophomore outside hitter Caitlin Ledoux is second with 3.09 kps. Junior Ashley Lee handles the setting duties and is posting 9.91 assists per set, while sophomore Lauren Minkel is the top digger at 3.75 digs per set. The Bruins own a 54-18 all-time series lead against Long Beach State, but the two teams have not played since 2004. The last two matchups were both in the NCAA Tournament and each were three-set UCLA sweeps. The Bruins are 18-7 in neutral-site contests against the 49ers. Long Beach State's last win in the series was a home sweep in 2001.

The Bruins are ranked in the Top 30 nationally in three statistical categories, coming in at 12th in kills per set (14.29), 24th in assists per set (12.84) and tied for 29th in blocks per set (2.63). UCLA is also 51st in both digs per set (15.55) and hitting percentage (.251). Sophomore Amanda Gil sits tied for 22nd in bps (1.40) and 52nd in hitting percentage (.381), while freshman Lauren Cook ranks 50th with 10.32 aps.

Sophomore Amanda Gil checks in at third in this week's Pac-10 rankings in blocks per set at 1.40. She is also among the league leaders in hitting percentage, ranking seventh at .381. Offensively, junior Dicey McGraw is sixth with 3.60 kills per set, while sophomore Lauren Cook is sixth with 10.32 assists per set. On defense, sophomore Lainey Gera is third with 4.13 digs per set. As a team, the Bruins are second in dps (15.55), third in aps (12.84) and kps (14.29) and fourth in bps (2.63).

The P.O.W. in this case stands for Player of the Week. Freshman Lauren Cook earned a pair of those honors, being named AVCA National Player of the Week and Pac-10 POW following her MVP performance at last weekend's Ameritas Players Challenge in her hometown of Lincoln, Neb. Cook posted three double-doubles in the trio of victories, starting the week with 43 assists and 14 digs against BYU on Thursday. One day later, the freshman had 44 assists and 15 digs against Virginia, chipping in six kills with no errors in 10 attacks for a .600 hitting percentage. On Sunday, Cook helped the Bruins snap Nebraska's 90-match home winning streak in the thrilling, five-set victory. The freshman notched 48 assists and 15 digs for her third straight double-double. She added five kills and no errors for the second straight match on nine attacks for a .556 hitting percentage. For the weekend, Cook averaged 10.38 assists, 3.38 digs and 1.15 kills per set, hitting at a .519 clip with only one error. The awards are the 59th Pac-10 POW in school history and the fifth AVCA NPOW, joining Annett Buckner (1994), Kristee Porter (1998), Nellie Spicer (2005) and Nana Meriwether (2006) on the list. For the year, Cook leads the Bruins with 10.32 aps and a .519 hitting percentage, placing third on the squad with 2.42 dps. The freshman has 30 assists or more in each of her last eight matches and has posted at least four kills with no hitting errors four times. During the season-opening Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational, Cook was named to the All-Tournament Team. In her very first match against Santa Clara, she led the Bruins in blocks with four. Cook had anywhere from four to seven digs in her first six contests before breaking double figures in her last three.

Senior Kaitlin Sather recorded three double-doubles last weekend at the Ameritas Players Challenge to earn All-Tournament Team honors. Sather, who has 40 double-doubles for her career, began the weekend with a 12-kill, 12-dig effort against BYU on Thursday. The next afternoon, the senior led the Bruins with 13 kills, adding 13 digs and five blocks against Virginia. Against Nebraska on Sunday, Sather had 13 kills and 16 digs in the Bruins' upset win. Entering this week's play, Sather is second on the squad with 2.63 digs per set and ranks third with 2.37 kills per set. The senior continues her climb up the UCLA career kills chart, moving into 18th on the list with 1,240, passing Jenny Johnson last weekend. Sather could move up a couple more spaces this week with Brynn Murphy (17th, 1,242) and Jenny Evans (16th, 1,278) also in her sights. This season, Sather has five double-figure kills matches and 74 for her career, leading the Bruins in the category in three matches against Western Michigan (Aug. 29), Idaho (Sept. 5) and Virginia. She is also approaching 1,000 digs for her career, entering the week with 878. The redshirt senior is on pace to become only the 12th Bruin to reach 1,000 in both kills and digs. This year, Sather has four double-figure digs contests (42 career), registering a season-best 16 against Nebraska.

Another Bruin who made the All-Tournament Team last weekend at the Ameritas Players Challenge was sophomore Lainey Gera, who also earned the honor two weeks ago at the Alexis Park Classic. Gera has five-straight, double-figure digs contests, recording a career-high 25 in the Bruins' victory at Nebraska on Sunday. She opened the tournament with her first-ever, 20-plus dig performance against BYU on Thursday, notching 22. Gera added 16 digs against Virginia on Friday. The sophomore is tops on the squad in digs per set (4.13) and double-figure digs matches with seven. Gera had back-to-back, 14-dig efforts against Western Michigan (Aug. 29) and Hawai'i (Aug. 30) and crossed double figures again in a Sept. 5 doubleheader against Loyola Marymount (10) and Idaho (13). In addition to her prowess at digging, Gera has chipped in offensively with her serving and setting. The sophomore's seven service aces leads the team, as she has recorded at least one in five of the last six matches, including two each against Idaho and BYU. Gera has also tallied at least five assists in a match four times, posting a career-high seven against Hawai'i.

Junior Dicey McGraw tied a career high with a team-best 18 kills on Sunday at Nebraska and continues to hold the top spot on the team in kills per set with 3.60. McGraw had a pair of double-figure kills matches last weekend, recording a Bruin-high 17 against BYU on Thursday. She added 12 digs for her first double-double of the season and fifth of her career. Starting with the first match of the year against Santa Clara when she had 12, McGraw has led the Bruins in kills in every other contest, posting 12 against Hawai'i on Aug. 30 and 16 against Loyola Marymount on Sept. 5. Even in the matches where she hasn't led the Bruins, McGraw has had no fewer than seven kills. On defense, the junior is averaging 2.00 digs per set, which is fourth on the team. She has two matches with at least 10 digs, posting 10 against Idaho on Sept. 5, and has added at least six digs in four more contests. McGraw has set three career-high marks this season, posting a .500 hitting percentage against Santa Clara, three service aces against Nebraska and 22.5 points versus the Huskers. McGraw, who easily could have been named to All-Tournament Teams at the Hawai'i and Nebraska Tournaments as well, did earn the honor at the Alexis Park Classic.

Sophomore Amanda Gil posted a pair of double-figures kills matches last weekend at the Ameritas Players Challenge and sits second on the team in kills per set at 2.43. Gil had 10 kills apiece against Virginia on Friday and Nebraska on Sunday and posted a great hitting match against the Cavaliers, recording only one error in 16 swings for a season-best .562 hitting percentage. Gil also had 10 kills against Loyola Marymount on Sept. 5 to give her three double-figure kills contests on the year and 15 for her career. She has hit better than .400 in a match four times this season and ranks second on the squad in hitting percentage at .381. Gil has been steady on offense, registering at least five kills in every match and committing three errors or less every time. Defensively, Gil remains one of the top blockers in the nation, ranking first on the team, third in the Pac-10 and tied for 22nd in the country with 1.40 blocks per set. The sophomore had a season-best eight against Virginia and has at least five blocks in five contests this season. The MVP of the Alexis Park Classic two weeks ago, Gil had seven roofs against UNLV (Sept. 4) and six more in the next match against LMU. To round out her terrific all-around play, Gil has at least four digs in a match four times, including a career-best seven against Nebraska. In the serving department, the sophomore has five aces, which is tied for third on the team.

Battling a terrible flu for the first two weekends of the season, sophomore Katie Camp was back to her old self last weekend at the Ameritas Players Challenge. The sophomore had three great hitting performances, including a .571 total against BYU on Thursday. Camp had nine kills and only one error in 14 swings against the Cougars, also leading the team with four blocks. The following match, she had nine more kills and a .300 hitting percentage against Virginia. On Sunday against Nebraska, Camp had eight kills, including three in the fifth set, hitting .316 and posting a team-best five blocks. For the season, Camp is averaging 1.95 kills and 0.77 blocks per set, hitting .326, which is fourth on the team. The sophomore played in just nine of the Bruins' first 18 sets this season due to the flu, but came back to participate in all 13 games last weekend.

Freshman Mari Hole cracked the starting lineup in each of the three matches at last weekend's Ameritas Players Challenge and recorded a career high in kills with 12 against Virginia on Friday. It was the second time that Hole eclipsed double figures in kills after she posted a team-best 10 against UNLV on Sept. 4. She hit .412 against the Rebels and added six digs and three blocks. The freshman has at least five kills in two other contests. On defense, Hole had her first career match with double figures in digs on Sept. 5, recording 10 against Loyola Marymount. She just missed out on another on Thursday against BYU when she had nine digs.

On the biggest volleyball stage of her brief collegiate career, freshman Bojana Todorovic posted her first double-figure kills match against then-#5 Nebraska on Sunday, tallying 10 in the Bruins' five-set victory. Todorovic just missed out on her first-ever double-double, recording nine digs. Through the first three weeks of the season, the freshman is averaging 0.97 kills and 1.83 digs per set, adding six aces, which is second on the club. Todorovic has at least four kills in three other matches, totaling five to go along with a season-best 12 digs against BYU on Thursday. Defensively, the freshman has posted at least four digs in eight of nine contests.

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