Dec. 9, 2006
HONOLULU - UCLA women's volleyball has advanced to its first NCAA Regional Semifinal since 1994 with a three-game sweep of 12th-seeded Hawai'i on Saturday night in Honolulu. Game scores were 30-16, 30-23, 30-23. The fourth-seeded Bruins will play top seed Nebraska on Thursday at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb. Match times have not yet been announced by the NCAA.
The Bruins dominated from the first serve of the match, taking a 4-0 lead and never looking back. UCLA extended leads of 18-5 and 26-11 before UCLA's first attack error of the match came down to make the score 27-15, prompting Bruin head coach Andy Banachowski to call his first timeout of the game. The Bruins hit a remarkable .571 team attack percentage with 17 kills and the lone error on 28 total attacks. UCLA o0ut-blocked the Wahine 4-0 in the game with Nana Meriwether taking part in three of the four blocks.
After UCLA's domination of the Rainbow Wahine in the opening game of the match, the second game of the match was tight, with seven ties by the time the media timeout took place with UCLA leading 15-14. Service errors by UCLA helped to keep Hawai'i in the game as the Bruins had four service errors in the first half of the game. The Bruins were able to extend a 19-15 lead and push that lead to five points at 26-21 and 29-22 en route to the 30-23 win. Despite seven ties in the second game, UCLA never trailed through the first two games and at the break was hitting .397 as a team with 7.5 blocks, led by Meriwether with eight kills, a .400 attack percentage and five block assists.
Hawai'i came out of the break and took an early 4-3 lead, its first lead of the entire matches. After taking the early lead, UH was able to hold that lead at 8-6 before three straight points by the Bruins gave them a 9-8 lead and extended it to 15-12 at the media timeout. UCLA extended its lead to 16-20, forcing Dave Shoji to spend his first timeout, a move that was successful as his Rainbow Wahine were able to cut the lead to two points at 22-20 before UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski used a timeout of his own to stop momentum. UCLA would take the lead to six points at 28-22 before Shoji used his final timeout.
From that point, the Wahine responded with a block to stop the UCLA momentum, but a Rachell Johnson kill, her fifth of the night, gave UCLA match point. With Jordan Smith in to serve, Ali Daley was able to put the ball down to send UCLA to the National Semifinals for the first time since 1994. UCLA is the only remaining team in the tournament to not have lost a game in NCAA Tournament play this season.
Meriwether and Sather each had a match-high 13 kills on the night with Meriwether adding five block assists. Colby Lyman was able to record her 1,000th career dig in the match, a milestone that came early in the second game of the match.