Aug. 24, 2010
Friday, Aug. 27
8 p.m. PT - #16 UCLA vs. Kansas State
Saturday, Aug. 28
8 p.m. PT - #16 UCLA vs. #22 San Diego
Sunday, Aug. 29
8 p.m. PT - #16 UCLA at #5 Hawai'i
Live stats, free audio and live video on UCLABruins.com
BRUINS OPEN SEALY ERA IN HONOLULU
The 16th-ranked Bruins head to Honolulu for the season-opening Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational, as first-year head coach Mike Sealy begins his tenure at the helm of the UCLA women's volleyball program. The Bruins begin play on Friday against Kansas State and continue action on Saturday versus #22 San Diego and on Sunday against host and fifth-ranked Hawai'i. All matches at the Stan Sheriff Center will begin at 8 p.m. PT/5 p.m. HT and will be broadcast live at UCLABruins.com. Links to the audio, as well as the live stats and video can be found above or at the schedule page of UCLABruins.com.
The Bruins play three times in less than 48 hours next week at the SJSU/SMC Tournament at Spartan Gym in San Jose, Calif. UCLA will take on host San Jose State on Thursday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m., Saint Mary's on Friday, Sept. 3 at 5 p.m. and UC Riverside on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 10 a.m.
BRUINS IN THE POLLS
UCLA was ranked 16th in the preseason AVCA Top 25 coaches poll and 17th by Volleyball Magazine. The Bruins were also selected seventh in the Pac-10 preseason coaches poll, earning 38 points.
BRUINS ON THE NET
Fifteen regular-season matches will be broadcast live on UCLABruins.com, starting with this weekend's action in Honolulu. In addition, all 10 home contests will be broadcast, as well as road tilts at Cal State Northridge and USC. Gametracker and/or live stats will also be available for all home matches and most road contests.
BRUINS IN SEASON OPENERS
UCLA has won 11-straight season openers after sweeping Santa Clara in Honolulu last year. Eight of the 11 matches have been sweeps. This year marks the third straight season that UCLA has opened the year in Hawaii. The Bruins had begun their season in Honolulu for 11 of 13 seasons from 1991 to 2003 before opening on the mainland from 2004 to 2007. The Bruins are 11-2 in season openers in Hawaii.
WELCOME TO PARADISE
Since 1974 with the inception of the Hawai'i women's volleyball program, UCLA has traveled to Honolulu at least once each year for 34 of the past 37 campaigns, including every season since 1980. The Bruins are 58-31 (.652) in matches played in Honolulu and 38-5 (.884) in matches against teams other than Hawai'i (UCLA is 20-26 at UH). UCLA has been part of a tournament in the Aloha State every year since 1988 and is 49-17 (.742) in its previous 22 Hawaii tourneys. Twelve of those 17 losses have come at the hands of the Rainbow Wahine. The Bruins have gone undefeated in Hawaii tournaments eight times.
SCOUTING THE KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
After making the postseason in 2008, the Wildcats dropped to a 12-18 record in 2009, finishing ninth in the Big 12 Conference. Kansas State returns five starters from last year's squad, led by senior outside hitter JuliAnne Chisholm, who led the team with 3.05 kills per set in `09. The Wildcats will have to replace their four-year setter, but on defense bring back senior libero Lauren Mathewson, who averaged 4.72 digs per set. K-State also returns sophomore opposite Kathleen Ludwig, who averaged 2.36 kps last year, and sophomore middle blocker Alex Muff, who was second with 0.75 blocks per set. Head coach Suzie Fritz is in her 10th season at Kansas State and holds a record of 191-89. The Bruins are 3-0 against the Wildcats, with all three matches being 3-1 triumphs. The first meeting was in Lincoln, Neb. on Sept. 13, 1991, while the last two matchups have occurred in Honolulu on Sept. 1, 2001 and Sept. 2, 2007.
SCOUTING THE SAN DIEGO TOREROS
San Diego is ranked 22nd in the AVCA preseason poll and returns five starters from a 2009 squad that went 18-7 and finished second in the West Coast Conference, just missing out on the postseason. Senior outside hitter Ali Troost led the Toreros last season with 3.95 kills per set and 39 service aces. USD also brings back senior middle blocker Ashton Basch's 2.65 kps and the setting of senior Kelsi Myers (11.91 assists per set in 2009). Head coach Jennifer Petrie is in her 11th year at San Diego and holds a record of 210-81. The Bruins are a perfect 5-0 against San Diego, last meeting at USD on Sept. 15, 2007, with UCLA pulling out a five-set victory. The Bruins came back from 2-1 down to claim the win, as Dicey McGraw recorded 13 kills and a .355 hitting percentage. The Bruins have also defeated the Toreros twice in Westwood and twice at neutral sites.
SCOUTING THE HAWAI'I RAINBOW WAHINE
The Rainbow Wahine went 32-3 last season, winning the Western Athletic Conference and advancing to the National Semifinals. Ranked fifth in the AVCA preseason poll, Hawai'i returns four starters from last year's squad, led by first-team All-American Kanani Danielson. The junior outside hitter averaged 4.23 kills per set to go with a .314 hitting percentage, 2.32 digs per set and 0.62 blocks per set. Senior setter Dani Mafua is also back (11.78 assists per set), as are sophomore middle blocker Brittany Hewitt (1.33 bps) and senior libero Elizabeth Ka'aihue (3.77 dps). Head coach Dave Shoji begins his 36th season at the helm of the Rainbow Wahine, and with the retirement of UCLA's Andy Banachowski, is the winningest active head coach in women's volleyball with a record of 1,016-176-1.
THE MATCHUP: UCLA VS. HAWAI'I
The Bruins and the Rainbow Wahine have played each other at least once a season since 1974, the first year of women's volleyball at Hawai'i. UCLA narrowly trails the all-time series 35-32 and had its four-match winning streak against Hawai'i snapped last season in a three-set sweep on Aug. 30 (25-23, 25-18, 25-22). Hawai'i holds a 26-20 advantage at home. Dicey McGraw has a pair of double-figure kills matches against Hawai'i, recording 15 in 2008 and 12 in 2009. Lainey Gera also has two double-figure digs contests to her credit with 13 as a freshman in `08 and 14 a year ago.
A new era of UCLA women's volleyball begins in 2010 as first-year head coach Mike Sealy takes the reins of a Bruin program that has recorded 11-straight, 20-win seasons and returns four starters and 11 letterwinners from a 2009 squad that went 24-9 and finished tied for second in the Pacific-10 Conference.
The lone four-year letterwinner on the 2010 team will once again provide a huge source of offense, as senior outside hitter Dicey McGraw begins her final season in Westwood. The All-Pac-10 honoree in 2009 led the Bruins with 3.11 kills per set and was second with 995 attacks, a total that may go up with the graduation of All-American Kaitlin Sather. The senior has also become more well-rounded with her defensive play, nearly doubling her digs per set output from her sophomore campaign with 1.88 dps a year ago, to go along with 0.56 blocks per set.
Also returning to bolster the Bruins' hitting attack with a year of experience under their belts are sophomores Mari Hole, Rachael Kidder and Bojana Todorovic. Hole, who was named All-Pac-10 Freshman honorable mention, was fourth on the squad with 2.06 kps in just 70 sets of action. Kidder, who will see a lot of time at the opposite hitter position, appeared in all 33 matches as a freshman and produced 0.45 kills and blocks per set. Todorovic, a member of the All-Pac-10 Freshman Team, led the Bruins with 31 service aces, was third with 2.54 dps and added 1.56 kps.
Among the freshmen ready to make an impact on the outside are Meg Norton and Kelly Reeves, who will each make the season-opening trip to Hawai'i. Norton was a three-time Mission League MVP out of Harvard-Westlake High School, while Reeves was a member of the 2010 U.S. Junior National Team and a standout at Cathedral Catholic High School. The Bruins also bring in freshman Allie LaPierre.
The Bruin middle blocking attack suffered a big loss, literary and figuratively, with the departure of All-American Amanda Gil. But UCLA, which has led the Pac-10 in bps each of the last two seasons, does return a couple of twin towers in juniors Katie Camp and Sara Sage. Camp was second on the team in bps at 0.94, third in hitting percentage (.289) and fifth in kps at 1.78. She led the Bruins in blocks in seven matches and had at least five blocks in a contest seven times. Sage was limited to only 73 sets as a sophomore, but still provided more than half a block per set at 0.64 to go along with 0.92 kps.
Newcomers in the middle and earning a spot on the season-opening travel roster are Mariana Aquino and Jenna Scilacci. The Brazilian Aquino stands 6-foot-3 and played with the National Brazilian Junior Team. The 6-footer Scilacci earned a pair of All-Sunshine League honors while at Marymount High School. The Bruins also return 2009 squad player Kim Dolphin.
For the third straight season, the Bruins will have a new setter in charge following the graduation of Nellie Spicer in 2008 and the departure of 2009 National Freshman of the Year Lauren Cook. The position battle has come down to a pair of players in junior transfer Lauren Van Orden and freshman Angelica Chaghouri.
Van Orden comes to Westwood after playing the last two seasons at San Diego State, where she led the Aztecs in assists per set as a sophomore and service aces as a freshman. Chaghouri was a three-year varsity starter at Marymount High School and was named to the All-Tournament Team at the 2010 18-U Junior Olympic Championships.
The Bruins' strong point over the last few seasons has been their backcourt defense, having led the Pac-10 in dps for three straight campaigns. With the return of junior All-Pac-10 honoree Lainey Gera, the libero position is again in capable hands. Gera produced the second-best, single-season UCLA totals in digs with 594 and digs per set with 4.91, ranking third in the Pac-10 in dps.
UCLA has a ton of depth at the defensive specialist spot, with the early leader for playing time being freshman Madie Smith. The Corona del Mar High School product was a four-time Pacific Coast League honoree and two-time league MVP. Todorovic may also see time in the backcourt, as will returners Amber McBenttez, Nikki Casale and Michelle Ketter, and newcomer Nicole Favreau.
The 2010 Bruins have no shortage of players who have followed in the tradition of their mothers or sisters in playing for the UCLA women's volleyball program. Freshman Kelly Reeves begins her journey at UCLA after her mother, Jeanne (Beauprey) Reeves, was a four-year letterwinner from 1979-82. Jeanne was an All-American in 1982, ranks 14th on the Bruins' all-time kills list and was an assistant on the 1990 and 1991 UCLA National Championship teams. Freshman Madie Smith will join her two older sisters as members of the UCLA women's volleyball team. Morgan Smith played with the Bruins from 2002-03 and Jordan played from 2005-06. The Bruin bloodlines also translate to the men's side, as freshman Angelica Chaghouri's brother Eric was a three-year letterwinner on the UCLA men's volleyball squad. Freshman Jenna Scilacci also has two brothers, James and Brian, who have played on the men's team.