Dec. 9, 2005
OMAHA, Neb. - It was a night of upsets in the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Tournament, but UCLA was unable to capitalize, falling 30-28, 30-23, 30-16 to top-seeded Nebraska in front of an NCAA-record 14,489 fans at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb. UCLA finishes its season with a 20-11 record while Nebraska (31-1) advances to play eighth-seeded Florida tomorrow night at 5 pm CT. The match will air live on ESPNU.
UCLA played an outstanding first game of the match, taking an early 7-4 lead on the top-seeded Huskers. Nebraska would come back to tie the game at 11-11 before UCLA put together a three-point run behind the service of Blair Socci with kills from Kaitlin Sather and Nana Meriwether before Meriwether and Sather combined for a block to give UCLA a 14-11 lead. UCLA maintained that lead to until a three-point Nebraska run tied the game at 24-all, and the Huskers would not take the lead until 26-25. From that point, UCLA was able to re-take the lead at 28-27, but Nebraska would score the next three points to win the opening game 30-28.
The exceptional opening game effort from the Bruins continued at the dawn of game two as the Bruins took an early 2-0 lead, but the Huskers roared right back, scoring four straight points to take a 4-2 lead. Nebraska never looked back, leading for the remainder of the game. After a near dead-heat in team attack percentage in game one (UCLA had a .286-.262 advantage in the opening game), the Huskers cruised to a .361 performance in game two while the Bruins hit just .200 as a team in the game.
It was more of the same after the break, as UCLA had more errors than kills for the majority of game three, finishing with a .100 team attack percentage in the game as compared to Nebraska's .464. UCLA scored the opening point of the game on a Christina Houghtelling attack error, but the Huskers stormed back to score nine of the next 10 points to take a 9-2 lead. Nebraska would never look back, leading by 10 or more points for the majority of the game en route to the 30-16 victory.
For the Bruins, freshman Kaitlin Sather led the way offensively with 11 kills. UCLA's middle blockers, who had been unstoppable in last weekend's opening rounds of the tournament, both had good attack numbers but were unable to connect on double-figure kills in the match. Nana Meriwether finished with six kills and a .444 attack percentage, but was held to just one block in the match, her lowest total of the 2005 season. UCLA's only senior, middle blocker Nancy Barba, played the final match of her Bruin career finishing with eight kills for the second-best total on the team, and led UCLA with four blocks in the match.
UCLA concludes its season with a 20-11 record and will only lose one player, Barba, to graduation.