UCLA to Face No. 16 Utah, Colorado
SALT LAKE CITY – No. 13 UCLA hits the road for the first time in two weeks as they square off with No. 18 Utah on Friday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m. PT and Colorado on Sunday, Nov. 7, at 11 a.m. PT. Both matches will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. Live stats are available on UCLA Bruins.com. The Bruins defeated the Utes and Buffs at their home stand earlier this season with a pair of sweeps.
MATCH INFORMATION: No. 13 UCLA (17-3, 10-2 Pac-12) at No. 16 Utah (15-6, 8-4 Pac-12)
Venue: Jon M. Huntsman Center
Television: Pac-12 Network
TV Talent: Krista Blunk
Stream: Pac-12.com / Pac-12 Now app
MATCH INFORMATION: Np. 13 UCLA (17-3, 10-2 Pac-12) at Colorado (13-8, 4-8 Pac-12)
Venue: CU Events Center
Television: Pac-12 Los Angeles
TV Talent: Justin Adams
Stream: Pac-12.com / Pac-12 Now app
First Place Since 1999
The Bruins moved into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 standings for the first time since 1999 after defeating No. 22 Washington State and No. 8 Washington last weekend. Falling behind two sets to none to the Cougars, the Bruins rallied in the fourth set with a .429 hitting percentage and fifth set with an astronomical .688 hitting percentage. Outside hitters Mac May and Charitie Luper recorded 22 and 21 kills, respectively, marking UCLA's first time this season it had multiple 20-kill performances in one match. In total, the Bruins recorded a season-high 73 kills, tied for second-most by a Pac-12 team in a match this season. Four Bruins -- Mac May, Charitie Luper, Shelby Martin and Zoe Fleck -- notched double-doubles in the match. In addition to May's team-high 22 kills, she dug out 16 balls for her team-leading seventh double-double of the season. Martin picked up her third 50-assist outing of the season with 53 helpers versus the Cougars. Luper was responsible for seven of the Bruins' 15 points in the frame with six kills on just eight swings and a solo block for the match-finisher. Senior outside hitter élan McCall was two digs shy of a double-double (12 K/8 D). Two days later, UCLA swept Washington for the first time since 2011. UCLA held the Huskies to a season-low .118 hitting percentage in the victory while hitting a collective .330 in the match. UCLA closed out the match with a wire-to-wire victory in the third set, never letting Washington within more than four points after the 15-11 mark. Head coach Michael Sealy has guided the Bruins to a 17-3 record this Fall 2021 season, matching UCLA's best start through 20 matches since its National Championship campaign in 2011.
Allow May to Reintroduce Herself
Mac May now leads the Pac-12 with eight 20-kill matches following her 22 kills in the victory over Washington State (10/29). She needs one more 20-kill performance to tie a season-high nine 20-kill matches set in 2019. May has recorded double-digit kills in 19 of 20 matches. May ranks second in the Pac-12 with 4.72 kills per set and 5.26 points per set in UCLA's 20 matches. 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 fourth place on UCLA's all-time kills list at 1,866, 134 behind joining the illustrious 2,000-kill club and 178 back of Liz Masakayan (2,044, 1982-85) in third place.
LÜP THERE IT IS
Charitie Luper set a career-high 21 kills in a double-double performance with 11 digs against Washington State (10/29). She is second on the team behind May with five double-doubles this season. Luper earned her fourth Pac-12 Freshman ot the Week honor on Monday, Oct. 25 (last three came on 9/6, 9/27 and 10/12). Only two other players in program history have won four or more weekly conference awards: Karsta Lowe (5, 2014) and Natalie Williams (4, 1990). Luper, the high-flying 5-9 pin hitter out of Dallas, Texas, notched her fourth double-double of the season in her 16-kill, 12-dig performance versus the Ducks (10/22). She established a career-high with 20 kills versus Utah on Sunday, Oct. 11. Luper ranks eighth in the conference and leads all Pac-12 freshmen in kills per set (3.75). She ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in conference play with 4.16 kills per set and 4.76 points per set. She is second on the team with a .295 hitting percentage (min. 200 TA), 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).
Pac-12's Strongest 1-2 Punch
May and Luper lead all Pac-12 scoring tandems since the start of conference play in combined kills (388) and combined points (430). In Pac-12 play, May and Luper both rank top four in the conference in both kills per set and points per set; May is first in both kps (4.98) and pps (5.40), and Luper is fourth in both kps (4.16) and pps (4.76).
Martin Milestone Watch
Graduate setter Shelby Martin is 57 assists away (3,943) from reaching 4,000 on her career dating back to her three years at East Carolina (2,623) and Fall 2020/Spring 2021 season at Kansas State (532). Martin has tallied 788 helpers so far this season, averaging 10.51 per set -- good for fourth-best in the Pac-12. Martin has eclipsed 50 assists in three matches this season, including a UCLA career-high 55 against Washington State in Pullman (10/3). Her 47 assists in the Bruins' sweep of No.16 Oregon (10/22) were the most by a Pac-12 player and fifth-most in the NCAA for a three-set match.
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 19 of 20 matches this season and ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with 4.19 digs per set. Fleck was awarded Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week following her 27-dig performance versus the Cougars which established a new career-high. The one match Fleck didn't lead in digs, McCall tied a program record in a three-set match with 28 dug out balls. She ranks third amongst Pac-12 pin hitters with 2.62 digs per set (167 digs). The two have helped keep opponents to a .173 hitting percentage, good for second best in the conference. McCall leads the Pac-12 with 0.36 aces per set. McCall served up a careerhigh 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.
The UCLA Bruins are ranked 13th in this week's AVCA rankings (Nov. 11, 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 11 weeks so far (17/preseason, 18/1, 16/2, 19/3, 19/4, 15/5, 16/6, 14/7, 17/8. 16/9, 13/10). The Bruins rounded out the NCAA Volleyball Committee's first Top 10 unveiled in between sets two and three of the UCLA-Washington ESPNU broadcast. UCLA is the highest ranked Pac-12 team in the NCAA's latest RPI at 8th place (Nov. 1). UCLA leads all Pac-12 schools with seven weekly awards (one Offensive POW, two Defensive POW and four Freshman POW), tying a program record set in 2016 with still four weeks left of the regular season.