November 29, 1998
Los Angeles - The UCLA women's volleyball team will face the University of Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship to be played at UC Santa Barbara's Thunderdome this Saturday, Dec. 5.
The Bruins finished the regular season ranked No. 15 in the AVCA/USA Today poll with a 15-11 overall record after starting the year with a six-match losing streak and finishing with victories in 12 of its final 14 matches. All 11 of UCLA's losses came against teams who made the NCAA bracket, while the Bruins also posted wins over three teams in the field.
UCLA is making its 17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, missing the post- season just once (1996). The Bruins have won six national championships in their 31 years of post-season action, including three titles since NCAA play began in 1981. UCLA owns a 120-23 record in all post-season action and is 44-14 in NCAA Tournament matches.
Virginia is 26-7 overall, reaching the ACC Tournament semifinals over the weekend and also winning 12 of their last 14 matches. The Cavaliers are one of 10 teams making their first NCAA appearance due in part to the expansion of the tournament bracket from 56 to 64 teams this year.
The winner of the UCLA/Virginia match will play on Sunday against the winner of Saturday's other first round match at UCSB between the Gauchos and Santa Clara. Match times are yet to be determined.
Last year UCLA also traveled to UCSB for NCAA Tournament action, defeating Pepperdine 3-1 in the first round and falling just short in five games with UCSB in the second.
Saturday's match with Virginia will be the first meeting between the schools. The Bruins played both Santa Clara and UCSB earlier this season. UCLA fell to Santa Clara 1-3 on Sept. 16, then defeated UCSB 3-2 in a match which served as a turning point in the season on Oct. 14. UCLA's all-time record against Santa Clara is 1-1, while its series record with UCSB is 60-8, 4-2 in post-season action.
UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski, named the Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year just last week, commented. "Honestly, we are disappointed not to get back into the top-16 the way we have been playing lately. Understandably, our poor start to the season influenced our final positioning. We are pleased to be in the draw given where we were a couple of months ago. We are happy we don't have to travel too far and have the whole week to prepare."
"It will be fun to see a new team in Virginia. That's what the tournament is about, getting match-ups from across the country. The expansion to 64 teams is good. Recognizing new programs emerging is great for the sport," Banachowski concluded.