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Second-Ranked Bruins Face Pac-12's Newest Teams
By: UCLA Athletics

Sept. 27, 2011

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Friday, Sept. 30
6 p.m. PT - #2 UCLA at Utah
Online Coverage: Gametracker | Video

Sunday, Oct. 2
1 p.m. PT - #2 UCLA at Colorado
Online Coverage: Live Stats | Video (Fee)

The Bruins (11-2, 4-1 Pac-12), who climbed to second in this week's AVCA Top 25 poll, will travel to the two newest Pac-12 teams this weekend, taking on Utah (6-8, 1-4) on Friday at 6 p.m. PT and Colorado (5-8, 0-5) on Sunday at 1 p.m. PT.

Gametracker and free video will be available for Friday's match against Utah. Live stats and video for a fee will be available for Sunday's contest at Colorado. Links can be found on the schedule page at

The Bruins continue their four-match road trip next weekend at the Arizona schools, facing Arizona State on Friday, Oct. 7 and Arizona on Saturday, Oct. 8. Both matches start at 7 p.m.

Thanks to a pair of wins over the #1 and #2 teams in the nation, the Bruins jumped up five spots to second in this week's AVCA Top 25 Coaches poll. The #2 ranking is the highest UCLA has been in the AVCA poll since it began the 2000 campaign as the preseason #1. It is the Bruins' highest regular-season ranking since being #2 on Sept. 6, 1994. UCLA received 1,345 points, 231 more than last week, as well as one first-place vote. The Bruins also moved up to second in this week's Volleyball Magazine rankings, up four spots from a week ago, earning 180 points (36 more than last week) and two first-place nods. In the Pac-12 preseason coaches poll, the Bruins were fifth with 90 points.

Junior Bojana Todorovic continues to pace all Pac-12 players in service aces per set at 0.50 and is one of five players listed in the Top 10 of their respective statistical categories. Junior Rachael Kidder is in the Top 10 twice, ranking fifth in both kills (4.25) and points (4.88) per set. She is tops among Pac-12 players in kills (4.56) and points (5.08) per set during conference matches. Senior Lainey Gera is third in digs per set overall at 4.73, sophomore Mariana Aquino is third in blocks per set at 1.40 and senior Lauren Van Orden is sixth in assists per set at 10.39. As a team, the Bruins are in the top half of the Pac-12 in five categories. UCLA comes in at third in digs per set (15.68) and opponent hitting percentage (.137), fourth in kills per set (13.51) and fifth in blocks per set (2.71) and assists per set (12.68). Overall, the Bruins are seventh in hitting percentage at .222, but have improved on that during league play, swinging at a .257 clip, which is second among conference squads.

Junior Rachael Kidder is ranked in the Top 30 nationally in two statistical categories, coming in at 24th in points per set (4.88) and 28th in kills per set (4.25). Two more players, junior Bojana Todorovic and sophomore Mariana Aquino, are in the Top 20. Aquino is tied for 15th in blocks per set (1.40), while Todorovic is tied for 18th in aces per set (0.50). As a team, the Bruins are tied for 19th in bps at 2.71.

Utah brings a 6-8 overall record and a 1-4 Pac-12 mark into Friday's match, having dropped four in a row to Stanford, California, Oregon State and Oregon, all in three sets. The Utes lone conference win was against their fellow newcomer Colorado in three sets on Sept. 13. Utah is 0-3 against ranked teams this season. As a team, the Utes are hitting .206 and are averaging 12.79 kills, 1.09 aces, 15.00 digs and 3.05 blocks per set. Three players are posting at least two kps, led by sophomore Morgan Odale, who is first with 3.11 kps and nine aces and second with 2.70 dps. Freshman Chelsey Schofield is second with 3.04 kps and third with 2.57 dps, while sophomore Erin Redd is third with 2.87 kps and first with 1.49 bps. Juniors McKenzie Odale (9.54 assists per set) and Abby Simmons (5.96) have each seen time at setter recently. In the backrow, sophomore Nikki Sim is leading the way with 4.32 dps, while at the net, senior Danielle Killpack is second with 1.22 bps and first with a .379 hitting percentage. Beth Launiere is in her 22nd year at Utah and has a record of 431-246.

The Bruins lead the all-time series with the Utes 8-1. The last matchup came in the season opener for both teams in 2007 at the AVCA Showcase in Omaha, Neb., as UCLA won in three sets, 30-23, 30-21, 30-27. The Bruins have split a pair of meetings in Salt Lake City, winning in three sets on Nov. 6, 1987 and losing in five on Sept. 17, 2004. UCLA has won 22 of 26 sets against Utah.

The Buffaloes enter their home contest on Friday against USC on a five-match losing streak, having dropped all 15 sets to Utah, California, Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State. Colorado is 0-3 against ranked teams this season. The Buffs are hitting .195 as a team and are averaging 12.04 kills, 0.85 aces, 13.75 digs and 2.00 blocks per set. Junior Kerra Schroeder is first on the squad with 4.00 kps and 11 aces and second with 2.62 dps, while sophomore Nikki Lindow is second with 2.09 kps. Senior Alyssa Valentine (9.90 assists per set) has seen most of the time at setter, but junior Michelle Miller (5.32) and sophomore Erin Stock (3.67) saw action in place of her last weekend. In the backcourt, sophomore Megan Beckwith is first with 4.54 dps, while at the net, senior Anicia Santos has a team-best 0.98 bps. Liz Kritza is in her third year at Colorado and is 11-50 in Boulder, as well as 94-99 in six-plus years of coaching overall.

UCLA has won all three matchups with Colorado, with the last meeting coming in Honolulu on Sept. 1, 2006, a three-set Bruin victory. The Bruins also beat the Buffaloes at Hawai'i in four sets on Aug. 30, 2002 and won at home in three sets on Nov. 13, 1992.

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