UCLA Downs Utah, Sweeps Weekend Competition
LOS ANGELES – For the second time this weekend, the Bruins swept a ranked Pac-12 opponent.
Freshman outside hitter Charitie Luper set a career-high with 23.5 points and 20 kills at a .400 clip to go with seven digs and two solo blocks in No. 16 UCLA's (12-2, 5-1 Pac-12) straight sweep of No. 15 Utah (11-4, 4-2 Pac-12) on Sunday afternoon in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom.
UCLA is off to its best start to the season through 14 matches since its 2011 National Championship Campaign when it also opened 12-2.
The Bruins took their first lead in the first set following back-to-back service aces from senior outside hitter élan McCall, who would finish the day with a career-high five aces. McCall leads the team with 18 aces and an average of 0.35 aces per set.
Five points later, McCall went on the attack with a kill and another service ace to stretch the UCLA lead to four, 15-11. Luper's two solo blocks came on consecutive plays out of a Utah timeout to push the Bruins out even further with a seven-point lead.
UCLA went on to ace the Utes four times in the set before Luper put away the frame with her fifth kill of the set.
Six Bruins, led by senior libero Zoe Fleck, were in the dig column for 14 digs in the first set. Fleck contributed four while graduates Shelby Martin and Mac May both recorded three.
Fleck averaged 5.33 digs per set in the match, and averaged 5.16 per set in both ranked wins this weekend.
The Bruins went on a 16-2 run to finish the second set. Fleck was at the service line for 11 of those points.
Luper found her groove in front of the Pauley Pavilion crowd once more, slamming home five consecutive Bruin kills for their final seven points to win the second frame. The two-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week picked up seven and eight kills in the second and third sets, respectively, for a combined .520 hitting percentage.
McCall notched the set point with yet another service ace to go up two sets to none.
Head coach Michael Sealy called a timeout after the Utes opened up the third with a 7-2 lead. Luper proceeded to score the Bruins' next four points off kills. Back-to-back kills by May cut the deficit to 10-8, and then May, Luper and McCall strung together a 3-0 run with a kill apiece.
UCLA closed the match on an 11-4 run with four straight points to seal the sweep victory. Luper, May and redshirt sophomore middle blocker all got in on the action with seven kills, and Martin and McCall both dealt aces in that span. In addition to averaging 12 assists per set (36 total) in the match, Martin recorded two kills, two block assists and six digs.
In total, the Bruins snuffed out 50 digs and had just two reception errors. McCall put forth her eighth double-digit dig showing with 12 in the match.
UCLA is on the road for its next two matches at Arizona on Friday, Oct. 15, at 5 p.m. PT, and Arizona State on Sunday, Oct. 17, at 1 p.m. PT. Both contests will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.