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No. 13 UCLA to Close Regular Season with Cal, USC

Nov 23, 2021
Photo Courtesy of Han Duong

LOS ANGELES – The No. 13-ranked UCLA women's volleyball team (22-4, 15-3 Pac-12) will close out its regular season with two weekday matches on the Bruins' Senior Day Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 12 p.m. PT against Cal (7-22, 0-18 Pac-12) in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom and on Friday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. against crosstown rival USC (14-14, 9-9 Pac-12) in the Galen Center.
The eight seniors honored on Wednesday will be Zoe Fleck, Emily Ryan, Devon Chang, Kelli Barry, Sawyer Aigner-Swesey, Shelby Martin, Mac May and Kelsey Campeau. The UCLA-Cal match will be available for streaming on Pac-12 Plus and the UCLA-USC match will be aired on Pac-12 Los Angeles. Should the Bruins defeat both the Golden Bears and Trojans, UCLA will be Pac-12 Champions for the first time since 1999.  
Venue: Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom
First Serve: 12:04 p.m. PT
Stream: UCLA Live Stream
Radio: UCLA Lean Player
Radio Talent: Denny Cline
Venue: Galen Center
First Serve: 7:04 p.m. PT
Television: Pac-12 Networks
TV Talent: Anne Marie Anderson (PxP), Holly McPeak (Color)
No. 13 UCLA swept Arizona State last Friday on Nov. 19 in Pauley to avenge its five-set loss to the Sun Devils earlier this season. After falling into a five-point hole in the first set, 19-14, outside hitter Allison Jacobs notched back-to-back kills and dealt a service ace to even the score, 20-20, to kickstart a decisive 9-1 UCLA run to take the opening set victory. The Bruins would not look back, never trailing by more than a point for the remainder of the match. May recorded her eighth double-double of the season with 16 kills and 11 digs in the win. Two days later, in the John Wooden Center against Arizona, May put together her 12th 20-point performance of the season with eight of her 21 points coming by way of service aces to put her at 164 aces for her career. May needs just two more aces to pass Elaine Youngs (165, 1988-92) for fourth all-time on UCLA's all-time ace list. Trailing the Wildcats 24-21 in the third set, UCLA staved off three set points and strung together a 5-0 run capped by May's final service ace.
Playing in front of a home crowd for the first time in over a year, UCLA is 9-0 at home with seven combined sweeps in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom and the John Wooden Center. At home, the Bruins are averaging 14.12 assists per set and are hitting at a blistering .327 clip to average 15.10 kills per set. All three statistical figures lead the Pac-12 in its home splits. May leads the Bruins with 5.13 kills per set at a .307 hitting percentage, and middle blocker Anna Dodson paces the squad with a .417 hitting percentage for 4.58 kills per set. Martin averages 12.13 assists for a .473 assist percentage. UCLA's home opener versus USC on Sept. 22 saw a crowd of 6,623, setting a new regular season home attendance record previously set in 1995 (6,215 vs. ASU).  
*All stats are home
The Pac-12 title and league's automatic qualifier remain up for grabs with two matches remaining in the regular season as No. 12 Washington and No. 13 UCLA are knotted atop the standings with 15-3 records. If the two teams match records over their final two contests, the Pac-12 will celebrate co-champions. If one team wins on Wednesday and the other loses, the victor will clinch at least a share of the conference title, with the outright determination coming down to the 20th and final league matches of the season. If both Washington and UCLA finish as co-champions of the Pac-12, the Bruins would receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The two teams split its meetings this season, but the Bruins won five sets compared to the Huskies' three. The Pac-12 has had co-champions four times previously in 2015 (USC/Washington), 2010 (Cal/Stanford), 2000 (Arizona/USC) and 1999 (Stanford/UCLA). UCLA has won seven league championships, with its most recent crown coming in 1999.  
Mac May etched her names into UCLA women's volleyball's record book one more time last week after tying the single-match program record for aces with eight in the Bruins' sweep of Arizona, tying the mark set by both Liz Masakayan in 1983 and Bojana Todorovic in 2011. On the season, May is at 457 kills and needs 36 more kills to both surpass her season-high of 493 set in 2019 and join UCLA's 2,000 kill club, the first to do join the club since the NCAA's switch to the rally scoring era in 2001. May is 80 kills back of tying Liz Masakayan (2,044, 1982-85) for third on UCLA's all-time kills list. May leads the Pac-12 with nine 20-kill matches following her 27 kills in the Bruins' victory against Utah (11/5). May has recorded double-digit kills in 24 of 26 matches and has recorded a .300+ hitting percentage in 11 matches. May ranks second in the Pac-12 with 4.76 kills per set and 5.35 points per set. May ranks fifth in the NCAA amongst NCAA active career kill leaders.
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 against the Cougars on Oct. 3 surpassed her career high by nine kills and were 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 43 kills versus Hawaii in September 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.  
Coming into the program after the Spring 2021 season as a graduate transfer from Kansas State, Shelby Martin became the first Bruin since Sarah Sponcil in 2017 to achieve a 1,000-assist season after totaling 31 assists versus Arizona on Sunday to bring her total to 1,010. Martin surpassed 4,000 careers assists with a 39-assist performance in the Bruins' 3-0 win over Colorado on Sunday, Nov. 7. Earlier that week, Martin notched her fourth 50-assist outing with 54 helpers against Utah. Martin recorded 532 assists in her one season at Kansas State (2020-2021) and 2,623 assists in her three seasons at East Carolina (2017-2019). Martin is currently at 942 assists through UCLA's 24 matches this season and is averaging 10.58 assists per set. Martin ranks second in the Pac-12 in conference play with 11.03 assists per set. Martin's 47 assists versus Oregon (10/22) were the most by any Pac-12 player in a three-set match this season.
Since entering the starting lineup in UCLA's match at Utah on Nov. 5, Allison Jacobs has recorded double-digit kills on two occasions and scored at least six kills or more over the six matches. Jacobs has also been active defensively, averaging 2.58 digs per set in that span contests and achieving double-digit digs on three occasions. Jacobs set a career high with 15 kills at a .462 clip along with seven digs in the Bruins' sweep of Colorado on Nov. 7. Against Arizona State last Friday, Jacobs registered nine kills, three service aces, a solo block and block assist on her way to scoring 13.5 points.
Anna Dodson and middle blocker Francesca Alupei, the Bruins' rotating middle blockers, have been UCLA's two biggest blocks this season and helped the team average 2.44 blocks per set -- third best in the Pac-12. Dodson and Alupei average 1.04 and 1.03 blocks per set, respectively. Dodson has become more involved in UCLA's attack the past six matches, registering four of her six double-digit kill performances on the season in that span. Against Utah on Nov. 5, Dodson tallied a career-high 14 kills against the Utes and followed that with another 10 kills against the Buffs on Sunday, Nov. 7. She stretched her double-digit kill streak to three matches after striking for 11 kills at Oregon State on Nov. 11. Against Arizona State last Friday, Dodson scored 10 kills on just 15 swings in addition to four blocks. She has hit for a collective 57 kills at a .495 hitting percentage over her last six matches.
The UCLA Bruins are ranked 13th in this week's AVCA rankings (Nov. 22, 2021). UCLA has been ranked in the Top 25 in all 14 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, 12/11, 13/12, 13/13). 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 on Oct. 31. UCLA is the highest ranked Pac-12 team in the NCAA's latest RPI at 10th place (Nov. 15).
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 25 of 26 matches this season and ranks fifth in the Pac-12 with 4.04 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. McCall ranks third amongst Pac-12 pin hitters with 2.60 digs per set (231 digs). The two have helped keep opponents to a .184 hitting percentage, good for second best in the conference.
Mac May and Zoe Fleck were named to the 2021-22 CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 Women's Volleyball Teams (College Sports Information Directors of America) on Nov. 18. May was honored as a first-team selection and will advance to the CoSIDA Academic All-America® ballot. May earned a 3.41 GPA while obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology as an undergraduate and is currently maintaining a 4.00 GPA as a graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in John Wooden's Transformative Coaching and Leadership (Education major). Fleck, who owns a 3.56 GPA as a psychology major, was honored as a second-team selection. First-, second- and third-team Academic All-America® honorees will be announced in mid-December. District 8 is comprised of schools located in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawai'i, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Canada.
UCLA has tied a program record set in 2016 with seven weekly awards (one Offensive POW, two Defensive POW and four Freshman POW). Freshman outside hitter Charitie Luper leads all Bruins with four weekly awards (all Freshman POW).
Head coach Michael Sealy and assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Megan Pendergast announced their 2021 recruiting class on Nov. 10 with the additions of outside hitters Cheridyn Leverette (Hampton, Ga./Eagle's Landing Christian Academy) and Grayce Olson (Pleasanton, Calif./Foothill High School) and setter Mokihana Tufono (Aiea, Hawaii/'Iolani School), who have all signed their National Letters of Intent. Leverette led Eagle's Landing Christian Academy to the semifinals of the Georgia state championships in 2021, recording 564 kills with a .416 hitting percentage, 72 aces, 25 blocks and 370 digs in 45 matches. Leverette was ranked as the No. 34 recruit and was named to the AVCA All-America High School Watch List her senior year in 2021. Olson is the all-time kills leader in Foothill High School history. In her senior season, Olson is leading her team with 609 kills at a .360 hitting percentage to go along with 71 aces and 28 blocks. Tufono has recorded 888 assists and 518 digs over her four seasons at the 'Iolani School and was named to the Scoring Live All-Hawaii Third Team in 2019.
Cal has yet to win a conference contest this season and is riding a 20-match losing streak. The Golden Bears' last win came to Saint Mary's in four sets on Sept. 15. Cal has yet to take a conference opponent to five sets as well. The Golden Bears rank 11th in the Pac-12 in hitting percentage (.173) and opponent hitting percentage (.243) and last in kills per set (11.6), assists per set (10.33) and blocks per set (1.84). Outside hitter Katie Smoot is Cal's leading point scorer, averaging 3.10 kills per set. Bella Bergmark leads the Golden Bears and ranks fourth in the conference in hitting percentage (.376). Bergmark is also Cal's blocks leader, averaging 0.90 blocks per set.
USC is currently on a four-match winning streak, fighting for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament with two ranked foes left on its schedule (No. 18 Stanford and No. 13 UCLA). Those four victories came against Oregon State, Arizona, Arizona State and, most recently, Brown on Monday. Prior to that, the Trojans lost six in a row, including five to ranked conference opponents. USC, spotted at seventh in the conference standings, is the only Pac-12 team with three players in the top 10 for hitting percentage: middle blocker Candice Denny sixth (.366), middle blocker Tyrah Ariail seventh (.360) and middle blocker Sabrina Smith ninth (.353). Setter Mia Tuaniga earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Week on Nov. 22 following a weekend when she set the Trojans to .366 and .315 hitting percentages for wins over Arizona and Arizona State. Tuaniga had 28 assists in the sweep of the Wildcats and 60 assists in a four-set win against the Sun Devils. Botkin leads the Women of Troy with 3.63 kills per set.