Bruins Open NCAA Tournament Wednesday Against Rider
FINAL HOME MATCHES ON TAP FOR NO. 17 BRUINS AGAINST OREGON STATE
The 15th-ranked Bruins begin the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday in Omaha, Neb. with a first-round matchup against Rider at 7:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. CT. The match will be aired on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN App. The winner of Wednesday's match will take on 14th-ranked and 16th-seeded BYU in the NCAA Second Round on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. CT, which will also air on ESPN3. Both matches will take place at the CHI Health Center Convention Center.
The winner of the NCAA Second Round matchup will face either No. 1-seed Wisconsin, Bowling Green or Weber State in the NCAA Regional Semifinals on Sunday, April 18 at a time to be determined.
BRUINS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
The Bruins are making their 37th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and hold a record of 91-33 (.734 winning percentage). They have won 30-straight, opening-round matches. UCLA reached the Round of 32 in 2019, defeating Notre Dame before losing at Wisconsin. Prior to that, the Bruins had advanced to the Regional Semifinals in four seasons in a row (2014-2017), including the Regional Finals in 2016.
FLECK, MAY, MCCALL NAMED AVCA ALL-REGION
Senior Mac May and juniors Zoe Fleck and élan McCall were each named AVCA Pacific South All-Region, as announced on Tuesday. Fleck and May earned First Team honors, while McCall was named Honorable Mention.
May picked up her third AVCA All-Region award after earning First Team honors in 2019 and Honorable Mention in 2018. She is the eighth Bruin to receive at least three All-Region accolades. McCall recorded her second All-Region nod after getting the award at TCU in 2018. It was the first All-Region plaudit for Fleck.
The three All-Region awards are the most for the Bruins since 2017 when they earned four.
ZOE FLECK NAMED PAC-12 LIBERO OF THE YEAR, FIVE GET ALL-CONFERENCE NODS
Junior Zoe Fleck was named Pac-12 Conference Libero of the Year, as announced April 7. Fleck was also one of five Bruins to earn All-Pac-12 honors, as she was joined on the All-Pac-12 Team by senior Mac May, junior élan McCall and freshman Iman Ndiaye. Redshirt junior Emily Ryan was named All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and Ndiaye was recognized on the All-Freshman Team.
First awarded in 2011, the Pac-12 Libero of the Year has been bestowed upon a Bruin three times, with Taylor Formico earning the award in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016.
For May, she becomes the sixth Bruin to earn four all-conference awards and the 10th to receive at least three First Team honors. Fleck, McCall, Ndiaye and Ryan were all honored by the Pac-12 for the first time.
Fleck leads the Bruins and all Pac-12 liberos with 4.34 digs per set, reaching double figures in digs in all 20 matches this season. She has surpassed 20 digs on five occasions, with a season-best 25 in a win against Arizona on Feb. 26. Fleck is also second on the team with 17 service aces, recording at least one in 12 of 20 contests. She had a season-best four against Oregon State in the regular-season finale on March 28. Fleck, who notched the first double-double of her career with 22 digs and 10 assists at Oregon on Jan. 29, was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week on March 2 after helping the Bruins to a series sweep of Arizona.
May is tops on the team with 4.25 kills and 4.87 points per set, ranking second in the Pac-12 in both categories, 27th nationally in pps and 34th in kps. She had double figures in kills in 19 of 20 contests, reaching the 20-mark on four occasions, with a season-best 25 on March 21 against USC. May has four double-doubles, setting a season high with 19 digs in a win over Washington on Feb. 12. The senior is also first with 26 service aces and sixth in the conference in aces per set. May has an ace in 12 of 20 matches, including multiples on eight occasions, with a season-high of four versus Washington. May is also second on the team with 13 block solos.
McCall, who is second on the team with 2.84 kps, leads the Bruins with seven double-doubles, setting season highs with 24 kills and 19 digs against USC on March 21. She has produced double figures in digs 12 times and at least 10 kills on eight occasions. McCall has been stepping up her serving game of late, as she is fourth with 14 aces. She has an ace in six matches in a row heading into the postseason and eight of nine, including multiples three times.
Ndiaye, who is third on the team with 2.12 kps, has six double-figure kills matches, registering a season-best 12 at Arizona State (Feb. 21) and against Oregon State (March 26). She has at least seven kills and a .400 hitting percentage in six matches. Ndiaye ranks ninth among Pac-12 players with a .305 hitting percentage. She also has at least four blocks in a match on five occasions.
Ryan leads the Bruins with 1.21 blocks per set and also has a .325 hitting percentage, which both rank fifth in the conference. Ryan has three double-figure kills matches, posting a season-best 12 with a .556 hitting percentage and seven blocks in a win at Oregon on Jan. 29. She has at least six kills with a .400 hitting percentage five times. Ryan has 10 contests with at least five blocks, recording a season-high nine in a win at USC on March 19.
SCOUTING THE RIDER BRONCS
Rider (7-4), out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, played a conference-only schedule, starting the season 1-4 before winning six in a row, including all three matches at the MAAC Championship to earn the league's automatic bid. The Broncs are averaging 13.91 kills, 1.80 aces, 15.50 digs and 1.59 blocks per set, hitting .235 as a team. Sophomore Morgan Romano is first on the team with 4.11 kills per set, while senior Ali Ward is second at 3.21 kps. Junior Anilee Sher handles the setting duties and is posting 11.64 assists per set. Senior Danielle Blanco is first with 4.73 digs per set, while junior Caprice Clarke leads with 0.81 blocks per set. UCLA and Rider will be meeting for the first time.
SCOUTING THE BYU COUGARS
BYU (15-1) won the West Coast Conference's automatic bid, with its lone loss coming at Pepperdine on Feb. 23. The Cougars, who enter the NCAA Tournament on an eight-match winning streak, are averaging 14.48 kills, 1.69 aces, 15.74 digs and 2.32 blocks per set, hitting .306 as a team. Senior Taylen Ballard-Nixon is first on the team with 3.89 kills per set, while sophomore Kate Grimmer is second at 3.00 kps. Sophomore Whitney Bower quarterbacks the offense and is posting 10.83 assists per set. Freshman Madi Allen is first with 4.20 digs per set, while senior Kennedy Eschenberg is tops with 1.44 blocks per set. The Bruins are 23-5 all-time against BYU, but the two teams haven't met since Sept. 10, 2009. UCLA has won two in a row in the series and is 3-2 in the NCAA Tournament versus the Cougars.
Senior Mac May, the 29th Bruin to surpass 1,000 kills for her career, the 19th to reach 100 aces and the 13th to do both, continues to rise up the UCLA charts. May has 1,475 kills for her career, which is 13th in Bruin history. Next up on the list are Kaitlin Sather (12th, 1,501) and Reily Buechler (11th, 1,562). In the aces department, May has a team-best 26 this season and 129 for her career. She is tied for 10th place, with Ann Boyer (9th, 136) and Jeanne Beauprey (8th, 142) next up.
--The Bruins lead all Pac-12 Conference teams in assists per set (12.97) and kills per set (13.90) and are also third in hitting percentage (.252) and fourth in digs per set (14.47). Nationally, UCLA is 21st in aps, 26th in kps and 39th in hitting.
--Senior Sabrina Smith has seven matches this season with at least four kills and a .400 hitting percentage in the same contest. She set a career high with eight kills at Arizona State on Feb. 21 when she was error-free in 10 swings, adding eight kills at USC on March 19 when she hit .538. Smith had a stretch of four matches in a row without a hitting error from Feb. 21-March 5 (22 kills in 33 swings, .667%). Defensively, she has a season-high of four blocks in a match on three occasions. At the service line, Smith has 10 aces.
--Freshman Audrey Pak earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors after a great final weekend of the regular season against Oregon State. She posted her first double-double with 28 assists and a career-high 10 digs on March 28, adding 18 assists and seven digs in the first contest. Pak has at least 15 assists in all 13 appearances, producing a season-best 29 against USC on March 21. She is 10th among Pac-12 setters in assists per set (6.08). Pak had five aces in a three-match span from Feb. 26-March 5 and had three in the OSU series, including two on March 28.
--Freshman Kate Lane is tied for second on the team with four double-doubles, producing her most recent one on March 12 in a win over Utah when she had 31 assists and 11 digs. On four occasions, she has set a season high in digs with 11, producing nine in three other matches. Lane's season high in assists came against Washington on Feb. 12 when she had 42. She has crossed the 30-mark twice against Utah and USC (30) on March 21. Lane is third on the team with 15 aces, posting four against Arizona on Feb. 26. She also had two at Arizona State (Feb. 19) and has at least one in 11 of her last 14.
--Freshman Allison Jacobs equaled a season high with 13 kills on Feb. 26 against Arizona. She has three matches with 13 kills and three others with 10. Jacobs has a pair of double-doubles against California (Jan. 22) and Washington State (Feb. 4), and three double-figure digs contests. She had a stretch of nine matches in a row with at least two blocks, including a season-high four on March 7 at Colorado.
--Redshirt sophomore Lexi Hadrych, in just her third match of the season, recorded a season-high six kills on March 14 against Utah. She added six more kills to go with three digs on March 28 versus Oregon State ... junior Kelsey Campeau served her first two aces of the season on March 28 against Oregon State. She has appeared in each of the last four matches, her first four of the season, recording at least one dig in every contest.