UCLA Opens Up Pac-10 Play at Arizona State, Arizona

Sept. 22, 2009

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Friday, Sept. 25
7 p.m. - #14 UCLA at Arizona State

Saturday, Sept. 26
7 p.m. - #14 UCLA at #19 Arizona

Gametracker for both matches

The 14th-ranked Bruins (10-3) open up Pacific-10 Conference play this weekend, facing Arizona State (10-2) on Friday and #19 Arizona (11-0) on Saturday, with both matches starting at 7 p.m. Gametracker will be available for each contest on the schedule page of UCLABruins.com.

After a 15-match road trip to start the season, the Bruins play at the friendly confines of Pauley Pavilion for the first time in 2009 next weekend. UCLA hosts #10 Stanford on Friday, Oct. 2 and #12 California on Saturday, Oct. 3. Both matches start at 7 p.m. Next weekend will also be Breast Cancer Awareness Weekend. More details on the festivities will be announced next week.

The Bruins tumbled from seventh to 14th following their 1-2 weekend at the Brea Embassy Suites Fullerton Classic. UCLA had received more points than the week prior in each regular-season ranking before this week's poll. The Bruins dropped six spots to 13th in this week's Volleyball Magazine poll. In the Pac-10 Preseason Coaches poll, the Bruins were ranked fourth behind Washington, California and Stanford.

All UCLA home matches, along with a road contest at USC (Nov. 6), will feature live audio broadcasts at UCLABruins.com. 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 UCLABruins.com.

Arizona State went 3-0 at last weekend's New Hampshire Classic, defeating Harvard and New Hampshire in three and Wyoming in four. The Sun Devils have won four straight heading into Friday's matchup with the Bruins and are hitting .254 as a team with 1.51 aces and 3.03 blocks per set. Junior outside hitter Sarah Reaves ranks third in the Pac-10 in kills per set at 4.31, also averaging 2.26 digs per set. Sophomore outside Sofie Schlagintweit is second on the team with 2.98 kps to go along 2.32 dps, while sophomore Camri Zwiesler averages 2.15 kps. Three players average over 1.20 blocks per set, led by senior Paige Mittelstaedt (1.29) and sophomore Sonja Markanovich (1.26). Sophomores Katie Crosby (11.05 assists per set) and Cat Highmark (9.00) have split the setting duties, while junior Sarah Johnson is the top digger at 2.71 dps.

The Bruins have won 13 straight and 25 of the last 26 against the Sun Devils, holding a 60-6 all-time advantage. During UCLA's 13-match win streak, it has dropped only five sets, winning a pair of sweeps last season. In the match in Tempe on Oct. 18, Dicey McGraw had a team-best 14 kills, while Amanda Gil added 11 kills. At Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 14, Gil paced the Bruins with 13 kills and six blocks, while Katie Camp posted 11 kills. The Bruins have a 26-4 record in road contests against the Sun Devils, with Arizona State's last victory at home and in the series coming in four sets in 2002.

Arizona is one of four undefeated teams in the Pac-10, bringing an 11-0 record into this weekend's action. Eight of the Wildcats' wins have been sweeps, including 3-0 victories over Tulane and UTEP at their home tournament last weekend. Arizona also earned a five-set win against New Mexico last Saturday. The Wildcats are hitting .264 as a team with 1.68 aces and 2.24 blocks per set. Four players are averaging over 2.00 kills per set, led by junior outside hitter Tiffany Owens, who is tops on the team with 3.89 kps and 2.89 dps. Owens is followed by sophomore outside hitter Dana Hutchinson (2.68), junior outside Whitney Dosty (2.35) and sophomore middle blocker Courtney Karst (2.00). Senior middle Jacy Norton is the top blocker at 1.32 bps, while junior Paige Weber is the quarterback of the offense, averaging 10.35 assists per set.

UCLA won both matchups with Arizona last season to increase its all-time series lead to 47-17. On Oct. 17 in Tucson, Amanda Gil led the Bruins with 15 kills, while Dicey McGraw added 13 kills in UCLA's four-set victory. On Nov. 15 in Westwood, a balanced attack saw six different Bruins post at least five kills in a three-set sweep. UCLA has won five of the last six, with the lone loss coming in Tucson in four sets in 2007. The Bruins are 20-10 all-time at Arizona. Each of the last 17 matches have gone either three or four sets.

The Bruins are ranked in the Top 40 nationally in two statistical categories, coming in at 16th in blocks per set (2.71) and 39th in kills per set (13.57). Sophomore Amanda Gil is 14th in the country in bps at 1.45 and 19th in hitting percentage at .405.

After posting 19 blocks in three matches last week, sophomore Amanda Gil moved into first in the Pac-10 rankings in blocks per set at 1.45. She is also fifth among conference players in hitting percentage at .405. With 10 service aces in four contests last week, freshman Bojana Todorovic vaulted into seventh in the Pac-10 in service aces at 0.36. Sophomore Lainey Gera is fourth in digs per set at 3.96, while freshman Lauren Cook is seventh with 9.86 assists per set. As a team, the Bruins are second in dps (15.15), third in bps (2.71) and fourth in opponent hitting percentage (.154).

Sophomore Amanda Gil is proving to be almost unstoppable on the offensive side of things as evidenced by a .472 hitting percentage in three matches last week. Gil had 27 kills and just two errors in 53 attempts in contests against Pepperdine, Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State. Against the Waves, Gil had 10 kills and only one error in 18 swings for a .500 hitting percentage, adding eight blocks and six digs. Two days later against the Titans, the sophomore posted another double-figure kills contest with a season-best 11 on just one error in 25 swings (.400) to go along with a season-high nine roofs and five digs. Gil finished the weekend with no miscues against the 49ers, recording six kills in 10 swings for a .600 percentage. Gil is second on the team with a .405 hitting percentage and 2.38 kills per set and third with five double-figure kills matches. She had a streak of four consecutive contests with at least 10 kills snapped against Long Beach State. Gil had 10 kills apiece against Virginia (Sept. 11) and Nebraska (Sept. 13) before adding two more 10-plus kill matches last week. The sophomore has hit .400 or better in a match seven times, registering at least five kills and committing three errors or less in every contest. Defensively, Gil remains one of the top blockers in the nation, ranking first in the Pac-10 and 14th in the country with 1.45 blocks per set. The sophomore has at least five blocks in seven contests, including three of her last five. The MVP of the Alexis Park Classic three weeks ago, Gil had seven roofs against UNLV (Sept. 4) and six more in the next match against LMU (Sept. 5). To round out her terrific all-around play, Gil has at least four digs in a match six times, including a career-best seven against Nebraska. In the serving department, the sophomore has six aces, which is tied for fourth on the team.

Freshman Lauren Cook joined select company two weeks ago when she became just the fifth Bruin to earn AVCA National Player of the Week honors following her MVP performance at the Ameritas Players Challenge in her hometown of Lincoln, Neb. Cook joined Annett Buckner (1994), Kristee Porter (1998), Nellie Spicer (2005) and Nana Meriwether (2006) as winners of the NPOW award. The freshman, who also earned Pac-10 Player of the Week accolades, posted three double-doubles in victories over BYU (Sept. 10), Virginia (Sept. 11) and Nebraska (Sept. 13) at that tournament and added two more last week against Pepperdine (Sept. 16) and Cal State Fullerton (Sept. 18). Against the Waves, Cook had 37 assists and 12 digs, adding 44 assists and 13 digs against the Titans two days later. The freshman leads the team with 9.86 assists per set, a .472 hitting percentage and five double-doubles. Cook has 30 assists or more in 10 of her 12 matches, totaling season-best totals of 44 against Virginia and Fullerton. In the digs department, she has a pair of matches with 15 against Virginia and Nebraska. Besides quarterbacking the offense, Cook has been helping the Bruins with her killing, posting four kills or more six times. Her season high in kills came against Virginia when she had six with no errors in 10 swings for a .600 percentage. She has posted at least three kills with no errors six times. Cook, who has also earned All-Tournament Team honors at the season-opening Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational, is third on the squad with seven service aces and 2.37 digs per set.

The steadiest player in the kills department has been junior Dicey McGraw, who is first on the squad in kills per set at 3.32, tied for the team lead with six double-figure kills contests and has at least seven kills in every match. McGraw led the Bruins in kills for a team-best seventh time against Fordham on Saturday with 12. She added nine against Pepperdine (Sept. 16) and Long Beach State (Sept. 19) and eight against Cal State Fullerton (Sept. 18). The junior's season-best in kills came at Nebraska on Sept. 13 when she tied a career high with 18. She also had personal highs in points (22.5) and service aces with three against the Huskers. Against BYU on Sept. 10, McGraw tallied 17 kills and 12 digs for her fifth career double-double. She also had 16 kills against Loyola Marymount (Sept. 5) and 12 apiece against Santa Clara (Aug. 28) and Hawai'i (Aug. 30). In the match against the Broncos, McGraw had only two errors in 20 swings for a career-high .500 hitting percentage. On defense, the junior is averaging 1.68 digs per set. She has two matches with at least 10 digs, posting 10 against Idaho on Sept. 5, and has added at least six digs in five more contests. McGraw has been named to one All-Tournament Team at the Alexis Park Classic.

Sophomore Katie Camp was named to the Brea Embassy Suites Fullerton Classic All-Tournament Team after producing a solid weekend in the hitting and blocking department. Camp had 16 kills and only two errors in 40 swings for a .350 hitting percentage and posted a pair of five-block contests against Fordham and Long Beach State on Saturday. After a slow start to the season when she was batting a terrible flu, Camp has returned to her freshman form of late, posting at least five kills in five of her last seven matches. She ranks fifth on the squad with 1.77 kills per set, fourth with a .324 hitting percentage and third with 0.83 blocks per set. Camp had a season-best hitting total of .571 against BYU on Sept. 10, posting nine kills and one error in 14 swings. She added nine more kills in the next match against Virginia (Sept. 11) and eight in the Bruins' victory over Nebraska on Sept. 13. Camp has five roofs in a match three times, also posting five against the Huskers.

Senior Kaitlin Sather recorded her fourth consecutive double-double and the 41st of her career last Wednesday at Pepperdine, posting 12 kills and 12 digs. She had a great hitting match against the Waves, making only one miscue in 28 swings for a season-best .393 hitting percentage. The double-double string began for Sather at the Ameritas Players Challenge, where she was one of three Bruins to earn All-Tournament Team honors. The senior had 12 kills and 12 digs against BYU on Sept. 10, 13 kills and 13 digs against Virginia on Sept. 11 and 13 kills and a season-best 16 digs against Nebraska on Sept. 13. Sather is tied for the team lead with six double-figure kills matches (75 for her career), with her season highs coming against Virginia and Nebraska. She had a five-match streak with at least 10 kills come to an end on Friday at Cal State Fullerton when she fell one short with nine. Defensively, Sather has five double-figure digs contests (43 career). The senior is second on the team with 2.56 digs per set and third with 2.27 kills per set. Sather continues her climb up the UCLA career kills chart, moving into 17th on the list with 1,262, passing Brynn Murphy last weekend. Next up on the list is Jenny Evans, who had 1,278 kills at UCLA. Sather is also approaching 1,000 digs, entering the week with 904. She is on pace to become only the 12th Bruin to reach 1,000 in both kills and digs.

Sophomore Lainey Gera continues her spectacular play as the Bruins' libero, ranking first on the team and fourth in the Pac-10 with 3.96 digs per set. Gera has a team-best 10 double-figure digs matches, posting 18 digs against Pepperdine last Wednesday and 17 more against Cal State Fullerton on Friday. She saw her streak of seven consecutive matches with at least 10 digs come to an end on Saturday against Fordham when she was given a breather of her libero responsibilities to serve as a defensive specialist, but she rebounded with 12 digs later that day against Long Beach State. Gera has twice had at least 20 digs, recording a career-best 25 at Nebraska (Sept. 13) and 22 against BYU (Sept. 10), and has crossed the 15-dig threshold three more times (Pepperdine, Cal State Fullerton and Virginia). In addition to her prowess at digging, Gera has chipped in offensively with her serving and setting. The sophomore's 11 service aces are second on the team, as she has recorded at least one in seven of the last 10 matches, including three at Pepperdine, which tied a career high. Gera has also tallied at least five assists in a match five times, posting a career-high seven against Hawai'i.

With 10 service aces in her last four matches, freshman Bojana Todorovic has vaulted into the team lead with 16, also cracking the Pac-10 rankings this week. The freshman is seventh among conference players with 0.36 aces per set. Her remarkable run began last Wednesday against Pepperdine when she had four aces. She followed that up with two more at Cal State Fullerton on Friday and three against Fordham on Saturday. It hasn't just been about the aces for Todorovic though, as she recorded her second double-figure digs contest against Fordham. Spelling sophomore Lainey Gera at the libero position, Todorovic had 16 digs to eclipse her previous season best of 12 against BYU on Sept. 10. The freshman has three other matches with nine digs and is fourth on the team with 2.02 digs per set. Offensively, Todorovic produced her first double-figure kills match at Nebraska on Sept. 13, recording 10 and falling one dig shy of a double-double. In her next two matches, she posted seven kills at Pepperdine and six at Cal State Fullerton. Todorovic is averaging 0.93 kills per set.

Another freshman making an impact in the lineup is Rachael Kidder, who earned her first career start on Saturday against Fordham and posted seven kills and season bests with six blocks and four aces. Kidder has notched at least six kills in four of her last six matches, producing a season-high eight against Virginia on Sept. 11. She also has six-kill contests against Pepperdine (Sept. 16) and Cal State Fullerton (Sept. 18). Against the Titans, Kidder had a .556 hitting percentage, posting only one error in nine swings.

Head coach Andy Banachowski is closing in on his 1,100th career victory. The UCLA skipper has an overall record of 1,092-295, making him the winningest coach in women's volleyball history ... the Bruins will play their 1,000th NCAA match on Saturday against Arizona. UCLA is 773-225 since joining the NCAA in 1981 ... freshman Mari Hole had 10 kills on Saturday against Fordham to post her third double-figure kills match. Her season high in kills came against Virginia when she had 12. Hole is fourth on the team with 2.13 kills per set ... sophomore Sara Sage had five kills and no errors in 11 swings for a .455 hitting percentage against Cal State Fullerton on Friday and tied a career high with six blocks against Fordham. In just 27 sets, Sage is second on the team with 0.96 blocks per set, third with a .333 hitting percentage and sixth with 1.26 kills per set ... senior Emily Clements made her first appearance on the court since the season-opening tournament last weekend in Fullerton, playing two sets against Cal State Fullerton and one against Long Beach. Clements, who missed seven matches with an ab injury, had three digs against the Titans and one kill against the 49ers ... sophomores Nikki Casale and Devon Dykstra played in their first matches of the season against Fordham. Sophomore Stephanie Nucci spelled Lauren Cook at the setter position and had a career-high 30 assists.

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