No. 19 Bruins Open Pac-12 Play with USC, Stanford
No. 19 UCLA (7-1) vs. USC (4-5)
Date/Time: Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021 -- 7 p.m. PT
Location: Los Angeles, Calif.
Venue: Pauley Pavilion
TV: Pac-12 Networks
TV Talent: Anne Marie Anderson
Stream: Pac-12.com / Pac-12 App
No. 19 UCLA (7-1) at No. 14 Stanford (5-3)
Date/Time: Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021 -- 2 p.m. PT
Location: Stanford California
Venue: Maples Pavilion
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Stream: Pac-12.com / Pac-12 App
No. 19 Bruins Kick Off Pac-12 Play With USC Home Opener, Close Week at Stanford
The 19th-ranked Bruins host crosstown rival USC (4-5) on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. PT at Pauley Pavilion to open their Pac-12 slate of contests. UCLA ends the week at No. 14 Stanford (5-3) in Maples Pavilion on Sunday, Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. PT. Both matches will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. Live stats will be available on the UCLA women's volleyball schedule page (UCLABruins.com). Fans can also follow @uclawomensvb on Twitter for live, in-game updates.
Recapping Last Week
The Bruins traveled to the Midwest for its lone regular season road trip outside of the Pacific timezone and returned with a pair of four-set victories over Butler and Milwaukee. Graduate outside hitter/opposite Mac May led UCLA with 27 kills in the two matches while also dealing two service aces. Freshman outside hitter Charitie Luper followed up on her Pac-12 Freshman of the Week selection (Sept. 6) by leading the Bruins in kills for the second time this season when she spiked 18 kills versus Milwaukee at a career-high .412 clip. Luper also assisted on four blocks to contribute to a team-total 15 blocks.
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, leapfrogged 1991 NCAA Champion Annett Buckner (1,630, 1991-94) to ninth-place on UCLA's all-time kill leader board with her 11th kill of the match coming in the fourth set versus Milwaukee. May currently has 1,632 career kills and needs 14 more to surpass Patty Orozco (1,646, 1980-83) who stands in her way for the eighth-most kills all-time. In the aces department, May passed Jeanne Beauprey (142, 1979-82) for eight-most all-time with three aces in her two matches last weekend. Only five Bruins are in the Top 10 in both kills and aces, as May has joined Liz Masakayan, Linda Robertson, Elaine Youngs and Ashley Bowles.
UCLA Block Party
The UCLA Bruins are leading the Pac-12 Conference so far this season in blocks per set at 3.13. The Bruins have now recorded double-digit blocks in five consecutive matches. Their 16.0 blocks in the three-set win over Portland State (Sept. 3) tops the league in 2021 for the most total blocks for a match, and they did it in just three sets. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Anna Dodson (1.34 bps) and freshman middle blocker Francesca Alupei (1.23 bps) are second and fifth, respectively, in the Pac-12 in blocks per set. Four other Bruins have recorded at least ten block assists apiece this season.
Francesca Alupei and Charitie Luper were key contributors in the Bruin attack and blocking assignments last weekend in UCLA's two victories versus Butler and Milwaukee. The two combined for 34 kills with a .378 hitting percentage. Luper is the second-most efficient passer for the Bruins behind May, averaging 3.05 kills per set. Luper, the true freshman outside hitter out of Byron Nelson High School in Trophy Club, Texas, snuffed out 20 total digs in the two matches as well. Alupei subbed into the third set of Butler's match and went a perfect 4-for-4 on her swings and followed that up with a seven-kill performance with only one attack error versus Milwaukee. Alupei denied the Panthers with five block assists in the second set as the Bruins finished the frame with six team blocks.
Scouting the Trojans
The USC Trojans are 4-5 on the year and have faced one similar opponent as the Bruins -- No. 21 San Diego. USC met a similar fate as the Bruins in their match with the Toreros on Sept. 9, losing in five sets. The Trojans has wins over Campbell (3-0 on Aug. 28), CSUN (3-0 on Aug. 28), Northern Iowa (3-0) and Hawai'i (3-1). USC lost to the 2020 NCAA Champion Kentucky Wildcats in straight sets on Sept. 4. Graduate outside hitter Brooke Botkin is the Trojans' leading attack option with a team-best 143 kills on the season (5th in Pac-12). Botkin has two 20-plus kill outings so far this season. Senior setter Raquel Lázaro ranks second in the conference with 0.39 aces per set. Graduate outside hiter Shannon Scully is tops in digs (139) and digs per set (3.97, 35 sets played).
Series History: UCLA vs. USC
UCLA holds a seven-win advantage all-time over USC with a 67-60 record. The Trojans most recently defeated the Bruins in five sets (25-27, 23-25, 25-14, 25-21, 11-15) at Pauley Pavilion on March 21, 2021. The two programs split last year's series.
Zoe Fleck recorded the 1,000th dig of her career in the season-opening win over UC Davis (Aug. 29). The reigning Pac-12 Libero of the Year had 635 digs in two seasons at UC Santa Barbara and 364 last year in her first campaign as a Bruin. She has a team-best 56 digs this year (4.00 digs per set), and has reached double-digit digs in all eight matches this year.
Scouting the Cardinal
Stanford is 5-3 and have played six matches ranked in the AVCA top 20 with wins over No. 5 Florida (3-1 on Aug. 31), No. 18 Penn State (3-2 on Sept. 11) and No. 6 Nebraska (3-1 on Sept. 14). The Cardinal most recently fell to No. 8 Kentucky (3-1 on Sept. 19). Before welcoming the Bruins, Stanford will host its Bay Area rival Cal on Sept. 22. Stanford sits atop the Pac-12 offensively, ranking first in kills per set (14.03), assists per set (13.26) and second in hitting percentage (.275). The Cardinal's weakness comes is in its passing ability, ranking last in the conference in opponent hitting percentage (.251). 2020 Pac-12 All-Freshman Team Selection Caitie Baird leads her squad and is second-best in the conference with 135 kills after pacing her team in 2020 with 140 in 2020. Freshman setter Kami Miner leads the Pac-12 in assists (357) and assists per set (11.52) -- nearly one whole assist more than Washington State's Hannah Pukis (10.60).
Series History: UCLA vs. Stanford
Stanford has the upper-hand all-time with a 54-41 record versus UCLA. The Cardinal have won 12 of their last 15 meetings against the Bruins.
Polling the Bruins
The UCLA Bruins remained at 19th in this week's AVCA rankings (Sept. 20, 2021). UCLA is one of six Pac-12 teams currently ranked in the Top 25. UCLA has been ranked in the Top 25 in all five weeks so far (17/preseason, 18/1, 16/2, 19/3, 19/4).
Pac-12 Preseason Poll
The Bruins were picked second in the Pac-12 Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. 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.
Graduate student Mac May (OH/OPP) and seniors Zoe Fleck (DS/L) and élan McCall (OH/OPP) were named to the 2021 Preseason All-Pac-12 Team.