Dec. 2, 2006
Nana Meriwether had 15 kills and nine blocks while Katie Carter had 12 kills and three aces as fourth-seeded UCLA advanced to its fourth-straight NCAA regional semifinal with a 30-24, 30-27, 30-26 sweep of Utah on Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA improves to 31-3 while Utah's season ends at 28-4.
UCLA led the entire way in game one, scoring the opening point of the match on a Meriwether kill and taking the lead for good at 2-1 on a Utah service error. The Bruins led by just two points at 21-19, but three Meriwether kills over the next six rallies pushed the UCLA lead to 25-20. A kill by Kaitlin Sather ended game one at 30-24.
Game two was back-and-forth as the teams were tied nine times with seven lead changes, including a final tie at 22-22. UCLA rattled off four-straight points, including back-to-back blocks by Meriwether, who teamed with Nellie Spicer and Katie Carter, as the Bruins turned a 22-21 deficit into a 25-22 lead. Rachell Johnson ended game two with a kill as UCLA took the 30-27 win heading into halftime.
Utah came out aggressive in game three as the Utes took a quick 5-1 lead using back-to-back Whitney Webb kills. UCLA came back to tie the game at 6-6, but Utah once again claimed the lead as the Utes held a 22-18 edge late in game three. Following a UCLA timeout, the Bruins responded with a 6-1 run, taking a 24-23 lead on a block by Meriwether and Becky Mehring. The game was tied at 26-26 when UCLA scored the final four points of the match, including three-straight Meriwether kills to give the Bruins match point. Carter ended the night with a kill to send UCLA to the round of 16.
Meriwether's 15 kills, .448 percentage and 19.5 points paced UCLA while her nine block assists led all players. Carter tallied 12 kills and hit .417 to go along with her three blocks and three aces for 16.5 points. Sather added 11 kills and hit .360 for 12.0 points. Colby Lyman tallied a team-high 13 digs while Spicer dished 38 assists and added five blocks. Utah was paced by Webb with match-highs of 17 kills, 18 digs and 20.0 points.
As a team, UCLA outhit the Utes by a .299 to .229 margin as well as a 14.0 to 7.5 edge in blocks.
UCLA advances to the NCAA Regional Semifinals for the fourth-straight year and seventh time in the last eight years. The fourth-seeded Bruins will join #5 seed USC, #12 seed Hawaii and #13 seed Oklahoma in the Honolulu regional. UCLA will face OU while USC and Hawaii will face off in the round of 16 next Friday, with the winners meeting on Saturday. Exact times for the matches in Honolulu have not yet been announced by the NCAA.