Sept. 2, 2008
BRUINS HEAD TO RIVERSIDE, RENO
The sixth-ranked Bruins travel to UC Riverside for a midweek matchup against the Highlanders on Wednesday at 7 p.m. before heading to Reno for the Nevada Tournament. UCLA will take on the host Wolf Pack on Friday at 7 p.m. and Division I upstart Seattle University on Saturday at 3 p.m. Fans can watch Wednesday's match online for free at BigWest.TV, while contests at the Nevada Tournament can be followed with live stats on the home team's website, www.nevadawolfpack.com.
BRUINS IN THE POLLS
The Bruins came in at sixth for the second straight week in the CBS College Sports Network/AVCA poll. UCLA earned six more points in this week's AVCA rankings. The Bruins were also ranked sixth in the Molten/Volleyball Magazine Top 25 Preseason poll.
Every year brings rule changes to women's volleyball, but most are so subtle that fans don't notice. That won't be the case in 2008, with perhaps the biggest rule change being the switch to 25-point sets. It marks the third different scoring method in the last nine seasons. After switching from sideout scoring and 15-point games to rally scoring and 30-point games for the 2001 season, the NCAA moves to 25-point sets to mirror the international scoring method. In addition to the new scoring system, the term "game" has been replaced with "set", so matches will now be a best three-out-of-five sets. The fifth set will remain rally scoring to 15. Other rule changes include a limit of substitutions to 12 and a loosening of the double-hit call for setters.
SCOUTING THE HIGHLANDERS
UC Riverside began its season with a 3-1 record at last weekend's Montana Invitational. After losing the opener against the host Grizzlies in four sets, the Highlanders beat North Dakota State in five and swept Bradley and Gonzaga. Leading the offense for UC Riverside in week one was senior outside hitter Kelly Fink, who had 4.20 kills per set and 2.27 digs per set. Sophomore outside hitter Kelly Simpson added 3.29 kps, while junior outside hitter Dominique Cowling posted 2.83 kps. Setting for the Highlanders is junior Brittney Murrey, who had 8.87 assists per set last weekend. In four matches, UC Riverside averaged 12.40 kps, 13.33 dps, 1.87 blocks per set and 1.27 service aces per set, hitting at .241. Sue Gozansky is in her 39th year at UC Riverside and owns a record of 675-497-16. The Highlanders were 6-21 last season and 2-14 in the Big West Conference, returning 12 letterwinners and six starters from that team. The Bruins have not lost to the Highlanders in nine meetings, but the last matchup came on Sept. 9, 1986. In a tournament match that was played best 2-of-3, UCLA beat UC Riverside 15-10, 15-6. The Bruins' lone match in Riverside was on Nov. 4, 1974, a 3-0 victory. UCLA has won 10 straight contests against the Big West.
SCOUTING THE WOLF PACK
Nevada traveled to South Bend, Ind. during its opening weekend and went 1-2, losing to Valparaiso in three and Notre Dame in four sets before beat IPFW in three. The Wolf Pack averaged 11.00 kills per set and hit at a .136 clip in the first week. They also had 15.20 digs per set, 2.35 blocks per set and 0.60 service aces per set. Sophomore outside hitter Kylie Harrington led the offense with 2.90 kps, adding 2.80 dps. Senior outside hitter Allison Hernandez averaged 2.20 kps and 3.40 dps last week, while sophomore middle blocker Lindsay Baldwin had 2.10 kps and 1.00 bps. The Wolf Pack setter is junior Sonnie Sei, who posted 9.00 assists per set last week. Devin Scruggs is in her 12th year at Nevada and holds a 190-135 career record. The Wolf Pack went 16-11 a year ago and placed fourth in the Western Athletic Conference with a 10-6 mark. Nevada brought back eight letterwinners and four starters from 2007. The Bruins and the Wolf Pack have played once before, with UCLA posting a 3-2 victory on Sept. 3, 2005 in Reno. UCLA claimed a 30-26, 22-30, 30-26, 29-31, 16-14 triumph. Nellie Spicer had 53 assists and 11 digs, while Kaitlin Sather had a team-high 20 kills to go along with 10 digs.
SCOUTING THE REDHAWKS
Seattle University returns to the Division I level in women's volleyball for the first time since 1980, as it is currently reclassifying from Division II. The Redhawks went 10-16 last season and placed seventh in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with a 7-11 record. Seattle returns nine letterwinners and five starters from last year's squad. During the opening weekend at the Boise State Invitational, the Redhawks went 1-2, sweeping Boise State in the first match before losing to Washington State in five and Cal State Northridge in three. Leading the way for the Redhawks during the first weekend was freshman outside hitter Cristin Richards, who had 3.64 kills per set and 2.82 digs per set. Freshman Kaytlyn Dill added 2.36 kps. Setting the team is sophomore Jamie Mellies, who had 9.09 assists per set last week. Seattle averaged 10.82 kps as a team last weekend, hitting .131. The Redhawks also recorded 1.45 service aces, 11.64 digs and 1.73 blocks per set. Before their matchup with the Bruins on Saturday, the Redhawks host Oregon State on Tuesday and South Florida on Thursday. The Bruins have never faced the Redhawks.
Senior setter Nellie Spicer earned All-Tournament honors at last week's Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic after helping the Bruins to a 2-1 record in Honolulu. Spicer averaged 9.50 assists per set, producing a weekend best 45 in UCLA's four-set thriller against #12 Hawai'i. The senior also tied a personal best with eight kills, making just one error in 14 attempts for a .500 percentage. She added 11 digs for her second double-double of the weekend (52nd of her career) and had three blocks, including the match-clinching roof with teammate Amanda Gil. Spicer registered her first double-double of the season in the opener against Ohio on Friday with 32 assists and 10 digs. Spicer has begun what promises to be a historic 2008 season, as she closes in on becoming the all-time assists leader in school history and joining another elite UCLA club. Spicer has 4,792 assists and is in third place on the Bruins' all-time list. She is less than 900 assists back of second-place Ann Boyer (5,667) and has a chance of catching first-place Erika Selsor (6,234) by the end of the season. Spicer had 1,550 assists a year ago and would break Selsor's mark by 13 if she equals last season's total. In addition to her quest to become the school's all-time leader in assists, Spicer has the chance to become the third player in UCLA history to earn three first-team All-American accolades. She received a second consecutive first-team All-American honor as a junior to become the sixth Bruin to accomplish the feat (Annett Buckner, Liz Masakayan, Daiva Tomkus, Natalie Williams, Elaine Youngs). Williams and Youngs are the only Bruins to earn three first-team All-American awards. Spicer, who was also a first-team All-Pacific Region and All-Pac-10 honoree in 2007, led the Bruins, was third in the conference and 25th in the nation with 12.92 assists per set. She was also fourth on the team with 3.07 digs per set. Spicer was second with 22 double-doubles and became the 16th member of UCLA's 1,000-dig club in the NCAA Regional Final against Stanford. For her efforts during that playoff run, she was named to the All-Regional Tournament Team.
QUICK DRAW McGRAW
Sophomore Dicey McGraw came out on fire to start her second collegiate campaign, leading the Bruins in kills in all three matches last weekend in Hawaii. McGraw had double figures in kills twice, including 15 against the host Rainbow Wahine on Sunday. She added 13 kills in the season opener against Ohio on Friday and posted eight against defending national champion Penn State on Saturday. McGraw leads the team with 3.60 kills per set and is hitting at a .247 clip. Last year as a freshman, McGraw was fourth on the team with 2.57 kps and 2.97 points per set in earning All-Pac-10 Freshman Team honorable mention accolades. McGraw had 11 double-figure kills matches, including at least 10 in five of the last seven contests, averaging 3.28 kps during that span. The sophomore also had three double-doubles and was impressive in a pair of NCAA victories. McGraw had 12 kills, eight digs and five blocks in UCLA's second-round win at Clemson and posted 13 kills and nine digs in the Regional Semifinal victory over Oregon.
THE DALEY NEWS
One of the captains on offense for the Bruins, senior Ali Daley had a great opening weekend, recording double figures in kills twice and posting her 30th career double-double. Daley began her final year in Westwood with a 10-kill performance in a win over Ohio, hitting at a .348 clip with just two errors. After adding five kills and 10 digs against Penn State, Daley recorded 12 kills and 14 digs for her first double-double of the season against the host Rainbow Wahine. She averaged 2.70 kills per set and 2.70 digs per set during the opening weekend, adding six blocks. Last season, Daley earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention accolades after placing second on the team with 3.69 kps and 3.66 dps. She recorded a team-high 23 double-doubles in her junior campaign and was also first on the squad with 4.48 points per set, 39 service aces, 16 block solos and 1,413 total attacks, with the latter ranking as the third-highest single-season total in UCLA history. Daley led the Bruins in kills 16 times in 2007 and became the first Bruin to record a 20-20 match since 2001 when she had 26 kills and 25 digs against Oregon State on Oct. 12. She had double figures in kills in 28 of 32 matches, which tied for the team lead. After surpassing the 1,000-career kill mark for her collegiate career last year, Daley enters this season just 214 kills shy of becoming the 24th member of UCLA's 1,000-kill mark. She is also 51 digs away from 1,000 for her career and 287 away from 1,000 as a Bruin.
Amanda Gil's BLOCK PARTY
Freshman Amanda Gil had a fabulous opening weekend, registering 14 kills, including eight in the Bruins' four-set victory over 12th-ranked Hawai'i on Sunday. Gil teamed up with senior Nellie Spicer for the match-clinching kill, one of seven block assists in the contest. Gil added four blocks against #1 Penn State after recording two in her collegiate debut against Ohio, finishing the weekend with 14 (1.40 blocks per set). The freshman wasn't too shabby on offense either, ranking third on the team last weekend with 2.40 kills per set. Gil did not commit a hitting error in her first college match, posting seven kills in 12 swings for a .583 hitting percentage. Following a five-kill performance against Penn State, Gil had 12 in 26 attacks against Hawai'i, producing 17.5 points. Ranked by several volleyball publications as one of the top incoming freshmen for 2008, Gil hit .321 on the weekend and also recorded her first career service ace against the Rainbow Wahine. For her efforts, Gil was named to the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic All-Tournament Team.
Katie Camp's BLOCK PARTY
The equally as entertaining sequel to Amanda Gil's block party was Katie Camp's block party. Camp was another freshman who had an outstanding first weekend at the net, producing 10 blocks and 10 kills. Nine of those blocks came in the Bruins' four-set win over #12 Hawai'i on Sunday. Earning her third start of the weekend, Camp had four blocks in the first set and three more in the third. The freshman added eight kills, making just one error in 14 swings for a .500 hitting percentage. Camp finished the match with 13.5 points. She averaged 1.25 kills per set during the opening weekend to equal her 1.25 blocks per set.
After seeing her 2007 season come to an early end in the ninth match with a right ACL injury, redshirt sophomore opposite Emily Clements made her return to the UCLA starting lineup this weekend in Hawaii. Clements started the first two matches against Ohio and Penn State, posting six kills against the Bobcats and four against the defending champion Nittany Lions. The sophomore rounded out the weekend with four more kills against the host Rainbow Wahine on Sunday. Clements had started all nine UCLA matches a year ago before going down and was averaging 2.38 kills per set. Through the first weekend of 2008, Clements ranks fourth on the squad with 1.76 kps.
Senior libero Jessica Fine picked up right where she left off in 2007, averaging 2.70 digs per set in the opening weekend of 2008, which tied for first on the team. Fine was consistent in her digs efforts for the weekend, posting eight against Hawai'i on Sunday, nine against Penn State on Saturday and 10 against Ohio on Friday. Last season, Fine led the Bruins in dps at 3.75, which was also eighth among Pac-10 players. It was the sixth-best dps mark for one season in UCLA history. Fine also had a pair of 30-dig matches to become the second Bruin ever to have more than two such contests in one season (Chrissie Zartman). In one of those 30-dig matches, Fine set a school record for digs in a four-set contest with 33 against Pepperdine (Nov. 20, 2007).
Also helping out in the Bruin backcourt last weekend was freshman Lainey Gera, who played in all 10 sets and earned her first collegiate start on Sunday against #12 Hawai'i. Gera had 13 digs against the Rainbow Wahine, the second most on the team, after recording eight digs in her second career match against #1 Penn State on Saturday. Gera enters this week's play tied for third on the team with 2.30 digs per set.