Dec. 16, 2011
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The ninth-seeded UCLA Bruins will be in search of the program's fourth NCAA Championship and seventh national title on Saturday when they face #3-seed Illinois at The Alamodome at 5:30 p.m. PT. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and online at ESPN3.com.
On Friday, the Bruins attended the AVCA All-America Banquet, where first-team honoree Rachael Kidder received her award. UCLA then took part in a 90-minute practice and answered some questions from the media.
Below are notes for Saturday's National Championship match, quotes from Friday's press conference and links to news stories over the last few days.
UCLA Women's Volleyball Notes - National Championship vs. Illinois
*The Bruins improved to 29-6 on the season with their sweep of Florida State on Thursday. UCLA improved to 79-27 (.745) in the NCAA Tournament (30th appearance), 8-4 all-time in National Semifinals and 11-9 in the Final Four.
*UCLA has advanced to its eighth National Championship match and holds a 3-4 record, winning titles in 1984 (Stanford), 1990 (Pacific) and 1991 (Long Beach State). The Bruins' four losses in the championship contest have taken place in 1981 (USC), 1983 (Hawai'i), 1992 (Stanford) and 1994 (Stanford).
*This season marks the 20th anniversary of UCLA's 1991 National Championship team, which was won in Westwood against Long Beach State. Along with their three NCAA titles, the Bruins have won three additional national championships (1972 - DGWS; 1974 - AIAW; 1975 - AIAW).
*The Bruins have never lost to Illinois, winning all 10 meetings. Nine of the matchups have come at neutral sites, but this will be the first meeting in the NCAA Tournament. UCLA has won 27 of 32 sets versus Illinois, with the last meeting coming in Honolulu on Sept. 2, 1994, a 3-0 Bruin sweep. Seven of the 10 meetings have occurred since 1981 when the NCAA began.
*The Bruins are now 7-3 all-time in the state of Texas during the NCAA Tournament and 23-5 overall in the Lone Star State.
*The Bruins are 17-0 this season when hitting .260 or better. UCLA hit .328 in the National Semifinal against Florida State. On the flip side, the Bruins are 25-0 when holding their opponent under a .200 hitting percentage, which they accomplished on Thursday, limiting the Seminoles to a .173 clip.
*The Bruins are 7-0 in neutral-site contests this season.
*The Bruins are 18-2 in three sets and 10-1 in four sets, but just 1-3 in five-set matches.
*UCLA is a perfect 10-0 this season when winning the fourth set of a match.
*UCLA is 25-1 when either leading or tying the battle in service aces. The Bruins out-aced the Seminoles on Thursday 5-2.
*Junior Rachael Kidder has 984 kills for her career, putting her 16 away from becoming the 26th Bruin to record 1,000 kills. Kidder, who leads the Bruins with 4.69 kills per set this year, has 90 kills during the postseason (5.29 kills per set). The first-team AVCA All-American is also hitting .347 during the NCAA Tournament, 95 points above her season average. Kidder's double-double on Thursday against Florida State (21 kills, 12 digs) was her eighth of the season and 10th of her career. She has led the Bruins in kills 28 times this season, has 31 double-figure kills contests (51 career) and 19 in a row.
*With 17 digs on Thursday against Florida State, senior Lainey Gera has 1,990 for her career, putting her 10 away from 2,000. She would become the second Bruin to record 2,000 digs (Chrissie Zartman). Gera has also played in 476 sets as a Bruin. She will tie the UCLA all-time record in sets played (Nellie Spicer, 480) if Saturday's match goes four and will break the mark if it goes five. Gera leads the Bruins with 4.93 digs per set, which currently stands as the second-best, single-season total in UCLA history. Her 596 digs this season are also the second-best, single-season mark in Bruin annals. Gera is averaging 5.29 digs per set during the NCAA Tournament.
*Sophomore Kelly Reeves recorded her 19th double-figure digs contest on Thursday with 10 against Florida State. She added seven kills and a career-high three service aces. Reeves, whose mother Jeanne was a UCLA assistant coach and pregnant with Kelly during the Bruins' last NCAA title run in 1991, is second on the team with 2.83 digs per set and third with 2.11 kills per set. She is averaging 2.88 dps and 2.24 kps during the NCAA Tournament.
*Senior Lauren Van Orden is averaging 12.82 assists per set during the NCAA Tournament, which is nearly 2.00 aps more than her overall season average of 11.04. Van Orden has at least 40 assists in each of the last four NCAA Tournament contests, including 57 in the Regional Final last Saturday against top-seeded Texas. She is also averaging 2.10 digs per set on the season and 1.82 dps in the tournament.
*Junior Tabi Love posted her 14th double-figure kills match this season with 12 against Florida State. Love is second on the team in kills per set overall and during the postseason, averaging 2.77 kps in 2011 and 3.65 over the last five matches. The junior transfer from Minnesota is the only Bruin with previous Final Four experience, as she played in the 2009 National Semifinal with the Golden Gophers.
*Head coach Michael Sealy, the AVCA National Coach of the Year, is in his second season at UCLA and holds a record of 51-15 (.773). He is looking to win his second NCAA Championship, after winning one as a player at UCLA in 1993 (was named co-Most Outstanding Player).
Championship Preview - Los Angeles Times (Dec. 16)