Aug. 24, 2007
Omaha, Neb. - Junior Ali Daley recorded a double-double with a team-high 11 kills and 13 digs and also served the final six points of the match, as fifth-ranked UCLA swept #21 Utah 30-23, 30-21, 30-27 at the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase in Omaha, Neb. on Friday.
The Bruins advance to the tournament's title match on Saturday, where they will be looking for some revenge, facing top-ranked and defending national champion Nebraska in a re-match of last year's national semifinal which the Huskers won in Omaha in four games. Saturday's final will begin at 6:30 p.m. PT and be aired live on CSTV.
Game one began tentative with both teams feeling each other out in their opening match of the season. Neither squad led by more than one through the first 12 points until UCLA scored five in a row to take an 11-6 edge, prompting a Utah timeout. The Bruins got the lead up to as much as six at 13-7 before the Utes stormed back to cut it to 19-18. But thanks to some solid blocking by senior Rachell Johnson, UCLA reeled off seven of the next eight points to go up 26-19. The Bruins' lead never dipped below four for the rest of the game, with a Johnson block ending game one and giving UCLA a 30-23 win.
The second game mirrored the start of the first, as neither team led by more than two and the score was tied at 10. UCLA responded with eight of the next nine points to take an 18-11 advantage. Utah again hung around, going on a 6-1 run of its own to trim the deficit to 19-17. However, the Bruins would come on strong late in the second game. Up 22-19, UCLA went on an 8-2 run to close out game two by a 30-21 score.
Utah was determined to force a fourth game, leading for most of the third. Trailing 9-7 scored six of the next seven to go up 13-10. The Bruins would not get the lead back until a kill by junior Nellie Spicer put them up 18-17. But the Utes rallied back again, scoring 10 of the next 15 to take what looked like a commanding 27-23 lead.
But the Bruins came back with seven straight points to duplicate last year's outcome in the NCAA Tournament when UCLA bounced Utah in the second round in straight sets. Following a sideout at 27-24, Daley served six winners in a row, including the final three on aces to give the Bruins their ninth-straight season-opening victory.
Johnson and junior Kaitlin Sather each added seven kills for the Bruins, with Johnson making eight blocks and Sather providing seven digs. Sophomore Emily Clements added five kills and seven digs, while freshman Dicey McGraw came off the bench with five kills in the final two games. Junior Jade Machado, who played the defensive specialist spot in game one, switched jersey colors for the second and third games and had nine digs as the libero in the final two sets. Spicer had her usual All-American effort with 36 kills, adding eight digs, five blocks and three kills. UCLA hit .250 for the first game, but struggled for the rest of the match, finishing at .174. However, the 8-2 advantage in aces and 12-7 edge in blocks proved to be the difference.
Kathryn Haynie led the Utes with 11 kills, while Connie Dangerfield had a match-high 21 digs. Keisha Fisher added a double-double with 34 assists and 17 digs.