Dec. 12, 2003
LINCOLN, NE - Eighth-seeded UCLA ended No. 9 Nebraska's 2003 season on Friday night in the NU Coliseum with a 20-30, 30-27, 20-21, 30-23 victory over the homestanding Huskers. The Bruins capitalized on a season-high 105 digs in a match that saw both teams hit under .150 for the match. The Bruins improve to 24-8 with the win, while Nebraska finishes its season with a record of 28-5.
UCLA struggled in the opening game of the match, hitting a disappointing -.104 as a team with seven kills and 12 errors in the game. UCLA did not lead after the 2-1 mark. Brynn Murphy led the Bruins in the opening game, recording three kills in the 30-20 opening game loss.
The Bruins were able to take an early 4-2 lead in game two, shaking off the poor hitting performance in the opening game of the match. As a team, UCLA hit just .167 in game two, but that was a drastic improvement over the team attack percentage in game one, and easily outdistanced the .079 team attack percentage recorded by the Huskers. Game two featured scoring streaks from both teams, with the Bruins forcing Nebraska into timeouts after a three-point run with a 10-7 UCLA lead, and after a four-point lead that gave UCLA a six-point lead at 17-11. Nebraska would eventually counter with a three-point streak of its own to close the gap to four points as UCLA led 23-19, and nearly came the whole way back to tie the game as a Husker service error stopped a three-point NU scoring streak that saw the Bruin lead shrink to a single point at 26-25. From that point, the teams traded points with UCLA using kills from Cira Wright and Brynn Murphy to reach game point at 29-27, and a Heather Cullen kill converted the game win for the Bruins at 30-27.
After the break between games one and two, the teams returned to the floor for an even more streak-oriented third game. Nebraska sprinted out to an early 8-4 lead on five straight points before UCLA countered with a four-point run of its own to tie the score at eight-all. A three-point Bruin run followed, but was halted by Nebraska's first timeout of the game. Another three-point streak gave UCLA a 15-11 lead, but was followed by the two teams trading five-point runs as the Huskers took a 16-15 lead then UCLA sprinted to a 20-16 advantage. . Nebraska was unable to close the gap to fewer than three points, and UCLA closed out the game by scoring the last six points to win 30-21. In game three, Brittany Ringel was UCLA's offensive force, downing four kills on six swings for a .667 attack percentage. Meanwhile, freshman Colby Lyman made the difference for the Bruins in the back row, recording eight of her team-high 23 digs.
Game started as another back-and-forth affair with the teams tied as late as 16-all before the Bruins put together a five-point run to take a 21-16 lead. UCLA would never look back, converting its third match point for a 30-23 fourth game win. This time it was Brynn Murphy who carried the offensive load, hitting .600 with six kills on 10 swings to lead the Bruins.
For the match, Murphy had a team-high 16 kills and 18 points, while freshman Colby Lyman led all players with 23 digs. In a match where offensive accuracy was at a premium, no individual player for either team hit better than .200, which was reached by UCLA's Cira Wright (10K-4E-30TA) and Nebraska's Melissa Elmer (14K-6E-40TA). As a team, the Bruins hit just .131, but that easily outdistanced the .108 team attack percentage recorded by the Huskers.
The Bruins will advance to its fourth NCAA Regional Final in five years and will face top-ranked and undefeated USC, which defeated Texas A&M in three games, 30-26, 30-25, 30-27. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 pm Central Time at the Nebraska Coliseum in Lincoln, NE. Saturday's contest will count for points in the Lexus Gauntlet standings.