No. 17 UCLA Opens Fall 2021 Season at UC Davis
NO. 17 UCLA OPENS FALL 2021 SEASON AT UC DAVIS
The 17th-ranked Bruins begin the Fall 2021 campaign this Sunday with a non-conference matchup at UC Davis at 2 p.m. A live stream will be available for free, with the link on the women's volleyball schedule page at UCLABruins.com. A sign-up is required, but the video stream is free.
The Bruins travel down the 405 to Walter Pyramid for the Long Beach State Tournament. UCLA faces the host team on Thursday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m., followed by matchups against Portland State on Friday, Sept. 3 at 5 p.m. and No. 24 Georgia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 3 p.m.
SCOUTING THE UC DAVIS AGGIES
UC Davis, which did not play a 2020 season due to COVID, returns eight letterwinners and four starters from its 2019 squad which went 17-13 and 9-7 in the Big West Conference. Redshirt junior outside hitter Mahalia White was named All-Big West First Team after averaging 3.06 kills per set, with junior middle blocker Josephine Ough (1.82 kps, .386 hitting percentage, 1.08 blocks per set) also earning All-Big West First Team honors. Junior setter Jane Seslar was All-Big West Honorable Mention after posting 9.86 assists per set and 2.08 digs per set. The Aggies' match with the Bruins will be the third in as many days for UC Davis, which plays Sacramento State on Friday and No. 6 Florida on Saturday. Bruin alum and former women's volleyball assistant coach Dan Conners is in his seventh year at the helm of the UC Davis program.
SERIES HISTORY: UCLA VS. UC DAVIS
It has been quite a while since UCLA and UC Davis met on the volleyball court, with the only two meetings occurring in Davis on Oct. 1, 1977 (3-0 UCLA win) and Oct. 11, 1975 (2-0 UCLA win).
BRUINS SECOND IN THE PAC-12 PRESEASON POLL, THREE NAMED ALL-PAC-12
The Bruins were picked second in the Pac-12 Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, while graduate student Mac May and seniors Zoe Fleck and élan McCall were named to the Preseason All-Pac-12 Team.
UCLA earned 101 points, 20 points behind preseason favorite Washington, one ahead of third-place Oregon and six points in front of fourth-place Stanford.
The Bruins check in at 17th in the AVCA Preseason coaches poll. UCLA has 11 matchups against teams in the Top 25, as well as four versus teams also receiving votes.
WHO ARE THE BRUINS?
The Bruins return 17 letterwinners and six starters from last season's team that went 15-7 last Spring, reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Last season, UCLA ranked 19th in the nation in assists per set, 22nd in kills per set and 35th in hitting percentage, while also leading all Pac-12 teams in aps and kps.
No season preview can start without talking about Mac May, who begins her fifth season in Westwood this Fall. The three-time All-American and four-time All-Pac-12 selection led the Bruins in the Spring with 4.33 kills and 4.98 points per set to go with a team-best 30 service aces. May ranked 21st in the country in pps and 26th in kps, posting double figures in kills in 21 of 22 contests and achieving four double-doubles. She was also second on the team with 13 blocks solos and had an ace in 13 of 22 matches, including multiples on nine occasions.
May leads a contingent of eight outside/opposite hitters on the roster, and was one of three last season to be recognized by the Pac-12. élan McCall earned AVCA All-Region Honorable Mention and All-Pac-12 First Team accolades in her first season as a Bruin, placing second on the team with 2.83 kps and 2.34 digs per set, adding 17 aces, which was tied for third. McCall led the team with seven double-doubles, tallying eight double-figure kills matches and 12 double-figure digs contests.
Iman Ndiaye was recognized on the All-Pac-12 First Team and All-Pac-12 Freshman Team in the Spring, ranking third on the Bruins with 2.12 kps. She had a .298 hitting percentage, which ranked 10th among Pac-12 players, adding 45 blocks and 32 digs. Ndiaye recorded six double-figure kills matches.
Continuing with the depth at the pins is Lexi Hadrych, who starts her fourth year at UCLA this Fall. She played in 18 sets and eight matches in the Spring, recording 25 kills, 13 blocks and 10 digs, including six kills and five blocks in a pair of NCAA matches. Allison Jacobs comes off a successful freshman campaign that saw her average 1.90 kps and 1.26 dps to go with 31 blocks and seven aces. She produced six double-figure kills matches, three double-figure digs contests and two double-doubles. Also on the outside are Skylar Canady and Gabriella Sonnhalter, who both redshirted in the Spring, as well as freshman Charitie Luper, who had over 1,500 kills and 1,500 digs in her high school career at Byron Nelson HS in Trophy Club, Texas.
The first step for a successful offensive attack typically starts in the back row with the liberos and defensive specialists. UCLA returns the reigning Pac-12 Libero of the Year in Zoe Fleck, who also was named AVCA Honorable Mention All-American, AVCA First Team All-Region and All-Pac-12 First Team. She led the Bruins and the conference with 4.39 dps, reaching double figures in digs in all 22 matches. Fleck surpassed 20 digs on five occasions and was also second on the team with 19 service aces.
Four more Bruins will see time in the back row. Kelsey Campeau played in 15 sets last Spring, recording five digs and two aces, appearing in each of the last six matches of the season. Kelli Barry (18 sets and 10 matches) and Sawyer Aigner-Swesey also return and are greeted by newcomer Katie McCarthy, who played both indoor and beach volleyball at Sunnyslope HS in Phoenix.
A foursome of setters will be in the mix to quarterback the Bruin offense. Devon Chang played in 24 sets and seven matches last season before suffering a season-ending injury. She would average 6.08 assists and 2.04 digs per set, adding two double-doubles. She surpassed the 20-assist mark in three of her six full contests.
Shelby Martin comes to UCLA as a graduate student after spending the 2020-2021 season at Kansas State, where she earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors, averaging 9.50 assists per set and 1.84 dps to go with 11 aces and 48 kills. Martin recorded a triple-double, adding three more double-doubles.
Following the injury to Chang last season, the Bruins turned to then-freshmen, now-sophomores Audrey Pak and Kate Lane. Pak led UCLA with 6.15 assists per set, ranking 10th among Pac-12 setters. She added 1.43 dps and eight aces, earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors after producing her first-career double-double to end the regular season.
Lane led the Bruins in assists with 459, averaging 5.81 per set. She also tied for third with 17 service aces, adding 1.58 dps. Lane produced four double-doubles, reaching at least 20 assists in 13 matches.
Leading the way at the middle blocker position is Emily Ryan, who was named All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention last season after recording a team-best 1.25 blocks per set, ranking fourth among Pac-12 players. She was also first with a .316 hitting percentage, ranking sixth in the conference, adding 1.61 kps. Ryan had 11 matches with at least five blocks and three double-figure kills contests.
In her first season in the Spring, Anna Dodson played in 24 sets and 11 matches as a redshirt freshman, recording 19 blocks and 14 kills. Tristin Savage is also back. She appeared in four matches and seven sets last season, tallying three kills and two blocks. Freshman Francesca Alupei also enters the mix. She prepped at Colegiul National Inochentie Micu Clain in Bucharest, Romania, playing club with Volei Alba Blaj and CSM Bucharest.
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, begins her final collegiate season ranked 12th in UCLA history in kills (1,507) and 10th in aces (133). Next up on the kills list is Reily Buechler (11th, 1,562). In the aces department, Ann Boyer (9th, 136) is just ahead of May.