No. 3 Bruins Wrap Up Regular Season at Pacific, Stanford
April 10, 2012
Live Coverage -- Fans can follow both matches via Gametracker. Links are available at uclabruins.com on the events calendar on the front page. For Friday's game, Pacific will be providing a live video brodcast at pacifictigers.com. In The Rankings -- UCLA remained at No. 3 this week in the AVCA poll after splitting their two matches against BYU last weekend. Stanford is ranked No. 5 in the AVCA poll after they won all three of their matches last week while Pacific came in at No. 13.
Scouting The Tigers -- Pacific has a 7-19 record entering this week and are currently sitting in 11th place in the MPSF with a 4-16 conference record. They have also dropped their last five matches dating back to March 30. The Tigers are led by junior Taylor Hughes, who leads the team with 310 kills on the season, and senior Florian Gornik, who is second to Hughes in kills with 302 and first on the team in aces with 14. Hughes also leads the Tigers in points with 359.5 on the year while Gornik is right behind him with 343.5. Senior middle blocker Sean Daley is also a key member of Pacific, as he leads the team in total blocks with 142. Finally, sophomore libero Javier Caceres leads the Tigers in digs with 238 on the year and is second in the MPSF with 2.53 digs per set.
The Series With Pacific -- UCLA owns an all-time record of 33-2 against the Tigers and have won the last three matchups against Pacific, all in three sets. The two teams met earlier this season at the John Wooden Center where the Bruins won 3-0 behinid double-digit kill performances from Weston Dunlap and Thomas Amberg. Gonzalo Quiroga chimed in with seven kills and three aces in the victory as well. Last season, Dunlap recorded a team-leading 14 kills in the first match in Stockton while Kyle Caldwell and Amberg chipped in with 11 each in UCLA's 3-0 win. In the rematch at the John Wooden Center, the Bruins clinched an MPSF playoff berth behind a career-high 22.5 points and six aces from Quiroga.
Scouting The Cardinal -- Stanford comes into their matchup with UCLA with an 18-6 overall record and a 15-5 record in MPSF play. The Bruins and the Cardinal are tied for fourth place in the MPSF standings heading into this weekend's matches and their match on Saturday could have a huge impact in deciding first-round matchups and home-court advantage in the MPSF playoffs. The Cardinal are led by senior libero Erik Shoji, who leads the MPSF with 243 total digs and 2.59 digs per set and could become Stanford's first ever four-time All-American. Senior outside hitter Brad Lawson, who was a first-team AVCA All-American in 2011, leads the team in kills with 362 and points with 427.5. Senior setter Evan Barry is also a key contributor for Stanford, as he leads the MPSF with 11.88 assists per set. Sophomore Eric Mochalski and senior Gus Ellis lead the Cardinal in total blocks with 82 and 76 respectively and have been solid at the net all year. Finally, John Kosty is in his sixth season as head coach of the Cardinal and won the National Championship with Stanford in 2010.
The Series With Stanford -- The Bruins lead the overall series with Stanford 62-17 and defeated the Cardinal earlier this season 3-0 at the John Wooden Center. Gonzalo Quiroga had a big night for the Bruins, scoring 16 kills and 18 points in three sets while hitting a blistering .538. Weston Dunlap and Kyle Caldwell put together solid performances at the net, with Dunlap recording four block assists and Caldwell recording five total blocks as the Bruins outblocked the Cardinal 8.5-2.0. Caldwell also had a great night setting the ball, setting UCLA to a .376 hitting percentage. The two sides have each won two matches in their last four meetings dating back to 2010.
Recapping the Weekend -- The Bruins split a two-match series against BYU over the weekend, falling in Friday's match in five sets before sweeping the Cougars on Saturday in head coach Al Scates' final regular season home match. On Friday night, UCLA took the first two sets before the Cougars rallied back to take sets three and four. The fifth set would prove to be a wild one and at 16-15 BYU, the Cougars looked to have the match won when Josue Rivera served what was called an ace by the referee. But after much discussion, it was decided that a replay of the point would occur and Rivera recorded a service error to tie the match at 16-16. The Bruins went on to win the fifth set 20-18 and appeared to have earned a crucial five-set victory over the Cougars. BYU protested the call and the match was replayed beginning at the score of 16-16 in the fifth set. BYU took the next two points and won the match in five sets. After the replay concluded, the two teams squared off in their regularly scheduled match and UCLA went on to defeat BYU in three sets. On senior night, all five of UCLA's starting seniors (Nick Vogel, Weston Dunlap, Kyle Caldwell, Thomas Amberg and Jeremy Casebeer) had great all-around performances to lead the Bruins while sophomore Gonzalo Quiroga led the team with 11 kills and 14.5 points. After the match, UCLA honored coach Scates for his 50 incredible years as the Bruins' head coach with a jersey retirement ceremony and a video tribute to the legendary coach. Scates then gathered with his hundreds of former players and coaches over the years and took an alumni picture at the end of the court.
The Career of Al Scates -- UCLA head coach Al Scates is in the midst of his 50th and final season as head coach, as he will retire following the 2012 campaign. Over the last 50 years, Scates has compiled a nation-best 1,238 victories in his time at UCLA and leaves behind an unmatched legacy of success, longevity and influence in collegiate men's volleyball. To date, Coach Scates has captured 19 NCAA championships, 21 overall national championships and 24 conference titles. In addition, Scates has coached 52 different first-team NCAA All-Americans, 44 U.S. National Team members, 27 Olympians, 26 USVBA All-Americans and seven collegiate Players of the Year over his 49 year tenure. "Al Scates stands alone in his contributions to the sport of men's volleyball," said Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. "His dedication, passion, and stewardship of the game ushered UCLA into an era of widespread achievement in Olympic sports and broadened athletic opportunities for collegiate men across the country. While bittersweet, Coach Scates' final year at the helm of Bruin volleyball will be a well-deserved season-long celebration for an individual whose lifetime achievements are truly remarkable. Al is among the greatest coaches in the history of college sports and a legend in the annals of UCLA Athletics. He is a Bruin in every sense of the word and we are so thankful for his 50 years of service to the University." Coach Scates will be honored after the match with a jersey retirement ceremony and a video tribute celebrating his 50 year career at UCLA.
MPSF Leaders -- Several UCLA players find themselves at the top or near the top of the leaderboard in numerous MPSF statistical categories. Senior Weston Dunlap wrestled the lead in hitting percentage from teammate Thomas Amberg, as Dunlap now leads the conference with a .485 mark. Amberg is right behind him with a .477 hitting percentage on the year. Amberg and Dunlap are also near the top of the leaderboard in blocks per set, as Amberg is fourth in the conference with a 1.50 blocks per set and Dunlap is 12th with 0.99 blocks per set. Senior setter Kyle Caldwell is 15th in blocks per set with a 0.96 mark and is also ninth in the conference with 9.86 assists per set.. Sophomore Gonzalo Quiroga is fourth in the MPSF 0.47 service aces per set while sophomore libero Evan Mottram is eighth in the MPSF in digs per game with 2.10. Finally, UCLA as a team is third in the MPSF conference in hitting percentage (.334) and second in opponent hitting percentage, holding opponents to just a .212 mark. The Bruins are also fourth in the conference in kills per game at 13.14, third in blocks per game with 3.04, and second in service aces per game with 1.31 per set.
Approaching the Record Books -- Senior quick hitter Thomas Amberg has been working his way up the UCLA record books this season and is closing in on a couple of more records as the Bruins enter the final stages of their season. Earlier this year, Amberg broke Paul Johnson's school record for most career block assists and total blocks in the rally scoring era (2001-present) and needs just four more solo blocks to pass Johnson for the most career solo blocks in the rally scoring era. Amberg also has 133 block assists and 141 total blocks this season, and needs eight more block assists and 18 more total blocks to pass Johnson for the most block assists and total blocks in a single season in the rally scoring era.
Coming Up -- UCLA has clinched a berth in the MPSF playoffs and will play in a quarterfinal match on Sat., Apr. 21. The opponent, location and game time will all be determined after this weekend's matches.
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