April 3, 2007
The UCLA men's volleyball team, ranked fourth nationally, returns home for its final three-match homestand of the season.
This week the Bruins (15-10, 10-9) host Cal Baptist on Wed., Apr. 4, followed by a key conference showdown with No. 2 ranked UC Irvine on Fri., Apr. 6. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion.
Darren Preston will call the live radio action on www.uclabruins.com.
The Cal Baptist Lancers (18-9) are the top-ranked team in the NAIA. On Mar. 27, the Lancers swept No. 5 UC Santa Barbara before defeating Hope International, 3-0 on Mar. 30. Other Division I victories for the Lancers this season include sweeps over No. 3 BYU (Feb. 13) and Penn State (Mar. 16).
Shamsu Awudu and Donald Salaiba are CBU's top scorers, combining for more than nine kills per game. Awudu is hitting .375 and averaging 0.33 aces per game; Salaiba is hitting .343 and averaging 0.64 aces per game.
Two years ago, the Lancers held a two games to one lead against the Bruins before falling in five at Pauley. UCLA leads the series, 3-0.
Second-ranked UC Irvine (22-4, 15-4) has already swept the Bruins twice this season, the last time on Mar. 9 at UCI. Fifth-year Head Coach John Speraw guided the Anteaters to the 2006 NCAA Championship semifinals where they ended their season with a 27-5 record after winning the MPSF regular season title.
Senior All-American outside hitters Matt Webber and Jason Jablonsky combine for nearly eight kills and nine points per game this season for UC Irvine. Setter Matt Thornton ranks among the national leaders at 13.1 assists per game and David Smith and Aaron Harrell are considered one of the best blocking tandems in the country.
UCLA leads the series, 49-7, but has lost four straight to UCI. Six of those UCI victories have come during Speraw's tenure as head coach.
On Saturday, the Bruins played one of their best matches of the season, sweeping USC at the Galen Center. Redshirt freshman quick hitter Shaun Nichols made his first career start and led the Bruins with 13 kills (.579) and 16 points, both career highs.
NOTES: The UC Irvine match will be High School/Club Team Night and Sports Camper Reunion Night. Please call 310-206-3444 for more information or to register a team. UCLA Volleyball bike bottles will be given away to the first 500 fans in attendance at Friday's match vs. the Anteaters.