Well, football's national signing day is finally done and in the books, but fortunately, if you'd prefer to ignore the Hoosier Loser's basketball team, our defending national champion baseball team is getting their season officially underway this upcoming Friday against unranked Portland. In any event, there's a lot of ground to cover this week, with softball making its return, so with that said, let's take a look at the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Beginning with the top-ranked men's volleyball team, the Bruins went to Malibu to pick up their tenth consecutive victory, but came away with nothing but a crushing loss to #3-ranked Pepperdine on Wednesday, getting swept in straight sets, 3-0 (14-25, 20-25, 19-25). The Bruins were led by the usual suspects in Robart Page (15 kills) and Gonzalo Quiroga (10 kills), but it wasn't enough to stop the Waves' onslaught. Fortunately, the Bruins got what they needed to bounce back, crushing #5-ranked Southern Cal on their own floor on Sunday, 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-19). Led by Quiroga (15 kills) and Page (10 kills), the Bruins didn't follow their men's hoops colleagues, not letting the Trojans get close and coming away with a clear win. With the split results, the Bruins are now 10-2 overall and 7-1 in conference play. They'll next be in action on Wednesday against Long Beach State.
- Unfortunately for Cori Close's women's hoops team, they weren't as fortunate as their male counterparts at the Costco Center on the other side of town, falling to the Southern Cal Women of Troy on Saturday afternoon, 68-54. Atonye Nyingifa led all scorers with 25 points (to go with 9 rebounds and 3 assists), but it wasn't enough for the Lady Bruins, as Southern Cal was successful in shutting down the rest of UCLA's offense, limited Thea Lemberger to just 12 points and Nirra Fields to just 9 points. With the loss, the Bruins fall to 11-13 on the year and 5-7 in conference play. They'll next be in action on Friday on the road in Corvallis to take on the Lady Beavers of Oregon State.
- Turning to the #2-ranked men's tennis team, the Bruins had two matches lined up in Northern California this past weekend, beginning with a Saturday trip to St. Mary's in Moraga, followed by a Sunday match in Palo Alto against the Cardinal. But, in case you hadn't heard, Northern California is finally getting rain (and, reportedly, a lot of it), which caused the St. Mary's match to be cancelled outright. Sunday wasn't much better, as the Bruins and Cardinal had to leave the court due to rain, with the match tied up at 1-1. Since this Sunday's match was a non-conference game (oddly enough), since it doesn't impact the conference standings, it won't be made up, which is probably good since the Bruins were struggling, losing the doubles point to start, with only Mackenzie McDonald getting a singles win, and with at least four Stanford players making serious runs at their Bruin counterparts. With the two non-matches now behind them, the Bruins remain 5-0 overall and will next be in action on February 22 in Malibu against Pepperdine.
- While the men got rained out, the #5-ranked women's tennis team headed indoors in Charlottesville for the USTA/ITA National Team Indoors Championship, beginning with a 4-2 victory over #17-ranked Texas on Friday. The Bruins started strong, winning the doubles point, with Robin Anderson and Kyle McPhillips running off a pair of singles wins to put the Lady Bruins on the brink of victory. Texas would claw back, but Catherine Harrison would pick up the Bruins' fourth point and take them on to the next round. The quarterfinal round would feature a familiar opponent in Southern Cal, but the Women of Troy put up little resistance as the Bruins rolled to a clean 4-0 victory. Opening with the doubles point, the Bruins knocked out three straight singles wins (McPhillips, Anderson, and Kaitlin Ray) to advance to the semifinal. And, staying on form, the Bruins made short work of #16-ranked Northwestern on Sunday, dropping the Wildcats 4-0. After grabbing the doubles point, UCLA ran off singles wins through Jennifer Brady, Anderson, and Ray to set up a final match-up against #10-ranked Duke this morning at 8 a.m. Pacific time in Charlottesville.
- Likewise, the #9-ranked women's gymnastics team were able to shrug off the winter weather in the warm confines of Pauley Pavilion on Saturday to host #20-ranked Arizona State. And the Lady Bruins put on a show, dropping the Sun Devils 196.925-194.950, with a Bruin taking top spot in three of the four events. But the story of the day was Samantha Peszek's perfect 10 on the uneven parallel bars, the first for UCLA in four years. With the big win, the Bruins move to 3-2 on the year and will head to Seattle this weekend to take on Washington on Sunday.
- Finally, the #13-ranked softball team made their long-awaited season debut on Thursday in Honolulu, dropping Delaware 10-0 in a mercy-rule shortened five innings. Ace Ally Carda (5.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 K) got her season off to the perfect start, throwing a no-hitter over five innings to earn the first win of the year, while the Bruins got their offense through the bats of Jessica Hall (1-2, 1 R, 3 RBI), Alyssa Tiumalu (2 for 2, 2 RBI), and Mysha Sataraka (1 for 2, 2 R, 2 RBI). The next day proved to be even better for UCLA, with the Lady Bruins slaughtering Hampton 17-0 in a mercy-rule shortened five innings. Jessica Hall helped the Bruins on both ends, beginning with a shut-out pitching effort (5.0 IP, 0 ER, 7 K), followed by her first homer of the year (1-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 HR), with the offense coming again through Tiumalu (1-2, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 HR) and Sataraka (2-4, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 HR), who each also notched their first homer of the year. Not content with just one win on Friday, the Bruins picked up the second game of their double-header, this time dropping host Hawaii, 7-2 in extra innings. Sophomore hurler Paige McDuffee went the distance to pick up the win (8.0 IP, 1 ER. 5 K), taking advantage of a late Hawaii error to force extra innings, where the Bruins surged, let by Tiumalu's second homer of the year (3-4, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR). The next day brought the tourney semi-final, with the Bruins again squaring off against Delaware. And just like the first game, the Bruins kept the Blue Hens off the board to pick up another big win, 7-0. Jessica Hall went the distance (7.0 IP, 0 ER, 9 K) to earn her second win in as many days, with Sataraka (1-3, 1 R , 3 RBI, 1 HR) and Stephany LaRosa (2-3, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 HR) taking the lead for the Bruins' offense. Finally, Saturday evening featured a tourney final re-match between our Bruins and the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine, and with Ally Carda (5.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 K) on the hill, the Bruins came through, winning 4-1 to claim the tourney title. With a win already in her resume, McDuffee (2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 K) came in for the final two to close it out for UCLA, picking up her first save of the year. With the tournament title in hand, the Lady Bruins find themselves at 5-0 overall. They'll next me in action in the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament this upcoming weekend, beginning with a Friday date with UC Davis.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to kick off this Monday morning as we get the work week started. Fire away in the comment section with your thoughts, additions, or other bits of UCLA-related news.