UCLA to Face Oregon, Oregon State
LOS ANGELES -- No. 17 UCLA reaches the midpoint of its Pac-12 schedule when they host No. 16 Oregon on Friday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. PT and Oregon State on Sunday, Oct. 24, at 12 p.m. UCLA's match with Oregon will be televised on the Pac-12 Network and its match with Oregon State is available for streaming on the UCLA Livestream. Live stats will be available on UCLABruins.com. The Bruins are 58-15 all time against the Ducks, but Oregon has won 14 of the last 26 meetings. UCLA is riding a 25-match winning streak over Oregon State with only six of those matches going five sets. Graduate outside hitter Mac May is the Bruins' top point scorer (4.53 kills per set), while senior libero Zoe Fleck has registered a team-leading 4.19 digs per set.
GAME INFORMATION: No. 16 Oregon (14-4, 5-3 Pac-12) at No. 17 UCLA (13-3, 6-2 Pac-12)
Venue: Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom
Television: Pac-12 Network
TV Talent: Anne Marie Anderson
Audio Talent: Darren Preston
Recapping Last Week
The Bruins split their weekend road trip to Arizona and Arizona State with a straight-set victory over the Wildcats (10/15) and a five-set loss to the Sun Devils (10/17).
Arizona had three set points on the line in the second set on Friday, poised to even the match at a set apiece. But graduate outside hitter Mac May caught fire, scoring a flurry of three points to bring her kill total to eight in the set. Two of her kills knotted the score at 25-all and 26-all, and one more gave the Bruins their first lead, 27-26, since the 14th point. After taking the second frame in extra points, 28-26, UCLA recorded a match-high 76 percent sideout rate and held Arizona to a .057 hitting percentage in the third and final set to cruise to its third consecutive straight-set victory. Senior libero Zoe Fleck gave the Wildcat attackers fits in the third set, recording eight of her match-high 17 total digs (5.67 per set) in the frame. Freshman outside hitter Charitie Luper joined her with four digs of her own, and would end the night with six. Luper set a career-high with three service aces in addition to her nine kills (.250 hitting percentage).
Three Bruins recorded double-digit kills in the Bruins' five set loss to the Sun Devils on Sunday. May led the Bruins with a double-double -- her fourth of the season -- featuring 20 kills and 12 digs. Luper also picked up a double-double with 17 kills and 14 digs in addition to her four blocks and three assists. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Anna Dodson posted 10 kills and a team-high six blocks. UCLA was held to sub-.250 hitting percentages in each of the last three sets while the Sun Devils hit at a .382 and .316 clip in the fourth and fifth sets, respectively.
May I Introduce You To...
Mac May has scored 20+ kills in six matches and 30+ kills in two matches this season, and has recorded double-digit kills in 15 of 16 matches for the Bruins. She needs three more 20-kill performances to tie a season-high nine 20-kill matches set in 2019. May won Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 4, 2021, following a 59-kill weekend at Washington and Washington State. Her 39 kills in Pullman surpassed her career high by nine kills and established both the most kills by a Bruin in a conference match in program history as well as the second-highest, single-match kill total in program history. It had been 30 years since Natalie Williams recorded more with her 43 kills in a September match versus Hawaii in 1991. The 39 kills -- the most by any Pac-12 player this season -- also tied for the sixth most by a player in conference single-match history. In addition to hitting an efficient .357 on her 84 swings, May achieved a double-double with 15 digs. In that match, she recorded nine kills in the second, fourth and fifth sets. May stands alone in third place on UCLA's all-time kills list at 1,788, 212 behind joining the illustrious 2,000-kill club and 256 back of Liz Masakayan (2,044, 1982-85). May ranks second in the Pac-12 in both kills per set (4.53) and points per set (5.10).
Charitie Luper set a program record with three weekly awards in one season when she garnered her third Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honor on Monday, Oct. 12 (last two came on 9/6 and 9/27). Luper, the high-flying 5-9 pin hitter out of Dallas, Texas, established a new career-high with 20 kills versus Utah on Sunday, Oct. 11. Luper leads all Pac-12 freshmen in kills per set (3.51) and points per set (4.03), ranking 10th overall, respectively, in the conference in each statistical category. She is second on the team with a .291 hitting percentage (min. 75 kills), and has led the Bruins in kills in four matches this season. Luper's 19 kills versus USC (9/22) were the most by a Bruin freshman in a home opener since Kristee Porter (1998-01). In each of her 15+ kill matches, Luper has scored her points in bunches. Most recently against the Utes, she scored three straight points with two blocks and kill in the first set and then five consecutive Bruin kills in the second set.
Pac-12's Strongest 1-2 Punch
May and Luper lead all Pac-12 scoring tandems in combined kills per set (8.04) and are second in combined points per set (9.13) behind only Stanford's Catie Baird and Kendall Kip (9.19) (min. 35 sets played). In Pac-12 play, May and Luper both rank in the top five of the conference in both statistical categories; May is second in kills per set (4.72) and third in points per set (5.17), and Luper is fourth in kills per set (3.96) and fifth in points per set (4.63).
First Place Bruins
Head coach Michael Sealy guided the Bruins to a 13-2, 6-1 record through the first 15 matches of the Fall 2021 season for UCLA's best start since its NCAA National Championship campaign in 2011. In that 2011 season, UCLA went 14-2 before picking up its third loss of the year to Arizona in five sets. UCLA is tied for first place atop the Pac-12 standings for the first time since 1999. The Bruins made it to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Regionals that season.
Back Row Bruins
Seniors Zoe Fleck and élan McCall have been leading the defensive charge in UCLA's back row. Fleck, the reigning Pac-12 Libero of the Year, has led the Bruins in digs in every match this season and ranks fourth in conference play with 4.21 digs per set. She has recorded double-digit digs in all 38 matches of her UCLA career. McCall leads UCLA's pin hitters and ranks sixth amongst Pac-12 pin hitters with 2.42 digs per set (144 digs). The two have helped keep opponents to a .207 hitting percentage, good for fourth best in the conference. McCall leads the Pac-12 with 23 service aces, averaging 0.42 aces per set. McCall served up a career-high five service aces in the Bruins' win over Utah, including three in the first set and one to seal the set point in the second frame.
Scouting the Ducks
Oregon dropped to fifth place in the Pac-12 standings after losing to No. 10 Washington, 3-2, and No. 25 Washington State, 3-0, last weekend. Its other Pac-12 loss also came to a ranked opponent in No. 19 Utah, 3-1. After roaring out to a two-set lead against the Huskies, recording 17 kills in each frame, the Ducks dropped three straight in a reverse sweep and were held to sub-.100 hitting percentages in the third and fifth frames. Outside hitter/libero Brooke Nuneviller -- the reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week -- recorded a team-high 15 kills in the match. Nuneviller was held to just eight kills on 29 swings with seven attack errors versus Washington State. Oregon hit a collective .091 in the match with no attacker reaching double-digit kills. Nuneviller leads the team with 3.41 kills per set, good for 10th best in the conference in Pac-12 matches. Three other Ducks average at least two kills per set: Taylor Borup (2.58), Gloria Mutiri (2.28) and Morgan Lewis (2.08). Oregon is the top defensive team in the conference, holding opponents to a Pac-12-best .152 hitting percentage and averaging 16.16 digs per set. The Ducks are tied for first with 2.73 blocks per set. Middle blocker Abby Hansen ranks second in the Pac-12 in blocks per set at 1.38.
Scouting the Beavers
After its two losses to No. 25 Washington State and No. 10 Washington last weekend. Oregon State will finish the season without a winning record for the fourth consecutive season. The Beavers' three wins came against Oklahoma (8/27), SIU Edwardsville (9/11) and Cal (10/10). Oregon State's top point scorers are middle blocker Lindsey Schell (162 kills), outside hitter Kateryna Tkachenko (158 kills) and outside hitter Maddie Goings (118 kills). Goings is currently 14th on Oregon State's all-time kill list at 1,322 career kills. The Beavers rank last in the Pac-12 in hitting percentage (.156) and opponent hitting percentage (.254), and are 11th in kills per set (11.80) and assists per set (10.82). UCLA head coach Mike Sealy is undefeated against Oregon State in his 11 years with the program.
Polling the Bruins
The UCLA Bruins are ranked 17th in this week's AVCA rankings (Oct. 18, 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 nine weeks so far (17/preseason, 18/1, 16/2, 19/3, 19/4, 15/5, 16/6, 14/7, 17/8). UCLA is the highest ranked Pac-12 team in the NCAA's latest RPI at 11th place (Oct. 17).