Dec. 6, 2001
LONG BEACH, CA - In a match between the eighth- and ninth-seeded teams in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament, the No. 8 seeded Bruins prevailed 30-25, 30-28, 22-30, 30-22 to advance to the NCAA Regional Final on Friday night in Long Beach. The Bruins (21-8) will face the winner of the match between top-seeded Long Beach State and the No. 16 seed Northern Iowa. Hawai'i concludes its season with a 29-6 record.
Game one was close early, with the Bruins and Wahine within one point of each other as late as 13-12, UCLA. Following the mandatory TV timeout at 15 points, UCLA ripped off five straight points to gain a 20-13 lead, a lead the Bruins would never relinquish. Cira Wright led the Bruins with two blocks and six kills in the opening stanza, followed by Lauren Fendrick with five and Kristee Porter, who had four kills on six swings.
UCLA went out to a quick 4-0 lead in the second game of the match, but the Wahine came back to tie it at 8-8. From there, UCLA built leads as large as six points at 21-15, but Hawai'i would not quit, putting together a four-point and a five-point run to tie the game at 28-28, but UCLA would close it out on a dump by senior setter Erika Selsor and a block by Heather Cullen and Brynn Murphy.
With game three tied at 9-9, Hawaii's Kim Willoughby got hot, downing six straight kills to give the Wahine a 15-9 lead before Porter and Angela Eckmier blocked Willoughby to end the streak. From there, the Bruins put together a run of their own, scoring six straight points behind the service of Eckmier to bring UCLA to within one point at 17-16. The match would be tied at 18 and 19 before Hawai'i put up four straight points to take a 23-19 lead and force the Bruins into their final timeout. UCLA would then put together a two-point run to get within two points at 23-21 before the Wahine scored six straight and closed out the game at 30-22. In game three alone, Willoughby downed 13 kills, giving her 28 for the match.
After several ties early in game four, the Bruins pulled out to a 12-10 lead. The match would be tied for the last time at 14-14, as the Bruins took the lead, and capitalized on a four-point scoring run behind two kills by freshman Brittany Ringel and the service of senior Ashley Bowles to give UCLA the 21-16 lead. UCLA would not look back, closing out the match with a 30-22 game four victory.
"We had a great performance tonight," said UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski. "We had huge blocks at important times, and had some great performances from freshmen coming off of the bench. We blocked well tonight, and that will be key against a powerful team like Long Beach, should they be our opponent tomorrow."
Porter led the Bruins offensively with 16 kills, and contributed one solo and six block assists. Eckmier turned in an outstanding night at the net, finishing with 10 kills, a .455 attack percentage, and eight blocks (two solo, six assists). UCLA's other middle, Cira Wright, was impressive with eight kills and six blocks on the evening.
Four Bruins had double-figure kills for the match, including Bowles who double-doubled with 11 kills and 11 digs, and Fendrick with 10 kills and 14 digs. UCLA out-blocked the Wahine by a 16-3 margin, forcing Hawaii into a -.083 attack percentage in the fourth and final game of the match.
The Bruins now advance to their third consecutive NCAA Regional Final, which will be played at The Pyramid in Long Beach at 7:30 pm PT on Friday night. The match will be broadcast live on CNNSI and with an audio broadcast on www.uclabruins.com.