DENVER, Colo. - The 11th-ranked Bruins were put to the test on Friday night at the Denver Invitational, winning the first two sets, dropping the next two, but winning the deciding fifth to post a victory over Cal State Northridge. Junior Karsta Lowe led all players with 19 kills, hitting .412 and adding five blocks. Set scores were 27-25, 25-23, 20-25, 22-25, 15-12.
Senior Mariana Aquino had 11 kills and no hitting errors in 17 attempts for a career-best .647 hitting percentage, adding six blocks. Senior Kelly Reeves notched her second double-double of the season with 13 kills and 10 digs. Redshirt freshman Haley Lawless added seven kills and five digs, while sophomore Maddy Klineman recorded five kills and three blocks.
The Bruins (7-1) hit .252 for the match. Freshman Jordan Robbins (35 assists) and junior Monica Stauber (23 assists, eight digs) handled the setting duties. Sophomore Karly Drolson had a career-best 18 digs.
The opening set featured 15 ties and five lead changes, but the Bruins held off three Northridge set points to take the first. UCLA’s largest lead was a pair, while Northridge’s was three. Even at 13, the Matadors went on a 4-2 run to take a 17-15 edge. Kills from Reeves and Lowe equaled the score at 17, but a 6-3 Northridge run made it 23-20.
The Matadors (6-2) led 24-21, but the Bruins bounced back with four straight points on two Aquino kills, a combo block by Aquino and Reeves and a Northridge attack error to save three set points and earn one of their own. The Matadors got the next point to tie things at 25, but an Aquino/Klineman combo block gave the Bruins a second set point and a Northridge attack error gave UCLA the 27-25 win. Aquino led the Bruins with four kills in the first, while Reeves added three. Drolson posted six digs, as the Bruins were out-hit by the Matadors .233 to .225.
Northridge had another late lead in set two, but UCLA came back again to go up 2-0 in the match in a set which featured 12 ties and seven lead changes. With the Bruins down 3-2, they scored three straight and eight of nine to go ahead 10-4. A kill by junior Zoë Nightingale and two Northridge attack errors made it 5-3. After a sideout, a kill and ace from Lawless and kills by Lowe, Klineman and Aquino made it a six-point difference. The Matadors came back with seven in a row to go up by one at 11-10.
With Northridge up 17-16, a Klineman kill and an Aquino ace put UCLA on top 18-17, but the Matadors came back with five of the next six to take a 22-19 edge. However, the Bruins finished the set on a 6-1 run to win the second 25-23. Lowe and Reeves kills made it 22-21 Northridge, and after a Matador sideout, a Lawless kill and a combo block by Aquino and Lawless squared the score at 23. Another Lawless kill gave the Bruins set point and a Lowe kill concluded a 25-23 victory. Lawless and Lowe each had four kills to pace the Bruins in the second, while Reeves added three. The Bruins out-hit the Matadors .367 to .310.
It was another close set in the third, and the Matadors this time were able to hold on to extend the match. UCLA led 3-2, but a 4-0 Matador run put them ahead 6-3. Trailing 7-6, the Bruins scored three in a row on two Northridge attack errors and a Reeves kill to go ahead 9-7. UCLA maintained its lead until 17-17 when the Matadors scored five in a row. The Bruins scored the next two on a Nightingale kill and Robbins ace, but Northridge scored three of the final four to win the third 25-20. Lowe led the Bruins with four kills, while Reeves added three. Stauber posted six digs, as the Bruins were out-hit .194 to .100.
There were 13 more ties and six lead changes in the fourth set, as neither team led by more than three. After dropping the first two points, kills by Reeves and Lowe and two Northridge attack errors put UCLA up 4-3. The Bruins led 10-9, but the Matadors got five of the next six to take a 14-11 edge. With Northridge ahead 18-15, UCLA went on a 5-1 run to take a 20-19 advantage. Lowe had two kills, freshman Claire Felix added one and combo blocks by freshman Jennie Frager and Reeves and Frager and Klineman put the Bruins up by one.
However, the Matadors scored six of the final eight points of the set to win the fourth 25-21 and force a deciding set. Lowe had seven kills to lead the Bruins, while Aquino added three. The Bruins still out-hit the Matadors .286 to .250.
The Matadors scored the first three points of set five, but UCLA came back with a 5-2 run on Frager/Lowe and Aquino/Klineman blocks, a Lowe kill and two Northridge attack errors. The Matadors scored the next two points, but a 5-1 Bruin run put them up 10-8. Reeves and freshman Hannah Boland had kills, Klineman served an ace and Northridge committed two attack errors.
Northridge came back to tie the score at 10 and 11-all, but Reeves and Klineman recorded kills to put UCLA ahead 13-11. After a Northridge sideout, a Lowe kill gave the Bruins two match points and a Matador attack error wrapped up a 15-12 win. Lowe and Reeves each had two kills in the deciding stanza. UCLA out-hit Northridge .300 to .138 in the fifth set.
The Bruins close out the Denver Invitational on Saturday against #24 Creighton at 11 a.m. PT. Links to live stats can be found on the women’s volleyball schedule page at UCLABruins.com.