Sept. 2, 2006
HONOLULU - The UCLA women's volleyball team, ranked 10th in the current AVCA poll, posted an impressive 31-29, 30-28, 30-15 sweep of No. 5 Florida on Saturday night at the Hawaiian Airlines Classic in Hawaii. The Bruins (5-0) are the only remaining undefeated team in tournament play. UCLA will finish tournament action on Sunday night against the host school, seventh-ranked Hawai'i.
Senior middle blocker Nana Meriwether hit .875 for the match, downing 22 kills on 24 attacks with just one error. It is by far the highest attack percentage in UCLA history for a player with more than 20 attacks, surpassing the .741 (20K-0E-27TA) performance posted by Kristee Porter on Sept. 8, 2001, vs. Pepperdine.
In a back-and-forth opening game of the match, Meriwether set the tone. She hit .889 in that opening game, downing eight kills on nine error-free attacks and added a block assist for 8.5 of her match-high 23.5 points. Neither team led by more than one point until Florida took a 15-14 lead, extending the gap to six points at 22-16. After a UCLA timeout, the Bruins started chipping away, with Jordan Smith serving five stragith points to bring the Bruins within one at 26-25. After an Amber McCray kill for the Gators stopped the Bruin rally and retained a two-point advantage for UF, UCLA scratched to stay within a point, calling timeout at game point. UCLA came back with consecutive kills from Nellie Spicer, Nana Meriwether and Katie Carter to take a one-point advantage before a block form Spicer and Meriwether closed out the opening game victory, 31-29, in UCLA's favor.
As a team, UCLA hit .339 to Florida's .314 in the game and out-blocked the Gators 2-1 with the teams dead even on digs at 23 apiece.
The second game resembled the first as the Bruins shed a late five-point deficit in a 30-28 UCLA win. The teams again traded points early with the Gators using a 5-0 run fueled by Bruin attack errors to forge ahead 8-5. UCLA came back and knotted the score at 10-10 before Florida again took charge with five consecutive. The Gators went on top by five at 20-15, but the Bruins called a timeout and then went on a 7-1 run to tie the game at 26-26. Florida retook the lead on a Killingsworth kill on a slide play with UCLA answering to make it 27-27. McCray notched an offspeed kill to give UF a 28-27 advantage, but the Bruins sealed the game with the final three points an Ali Daley kill, a UF attack error and a Kaitlin Sather kill to close out the game and go to the locker rooms up 2-0. UCLA again out-hit Florida .312-.275 and totaled 23 kills to 18 for the Gators. Meriwether was perfect in game two, downing six kills on as many swings with one block assist. The remainder of UCLA's offense was spread evenly, with Daley, Sather and Rachell Johnson recording four kills apiece.
UCLA turned a close game three in the opening stages into a convincing 30-15 win. The Bruins jumped out to an early 5-2 lead, but Florida responded with a pair of points to come within one at 5-4 before UCLA again went on top by three at 8-5. The Gators tallied the next three points but after UF tied things at 8-8, UCLA went on an 8-1 run in moving on top 16-9 and the Gators didn't threaten the rest of the way. Meriwether did not lose her perfect evening until she was blocked on at attack at the 8-7 mark (UCLA leading) in the third game. Johnson served eight straight points for the Bruins as they rolled to the final game victory.
In game three, Meriwether hit .778 with eight kills on nine attacks with the lone error. UCLA out-blocked the Gators by a 4-1 margin in the game.
UCLA looks to remain undefeated on the year with a Sunday night match against host Hawaii. The Bruins and Rainbow Wahine take to the Stan Sheriff Center court at 8 pm Pacific Time on Sunday.