Sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due. Yes, Chianti Dan did hire John Speraw. Sure, it definitely helped that Speraw is an alum and former assistant who openly wanted the job when the legendary Al Scates stepped down. But compare Speraw to the Hoosier Loser - the hire that Chianti Dan made to run the other double-digit national title program that plays in Pauley Pavilion - and you couldn't get a more stark contrast. While Speraw's Twitter feed (@JohnSperaw) and post-match comments are full of praise for his team and players, douchebag-in-charge Steve Alford is busy throwing his players under the bus, which is kind of ironic since Alford's hire was widely criticized by alums and faculty, in part for his stubborn insistence in defending Pierre Pierce at Iowa. But then again,when you realize that "motherfucker" tried to discourage Tony Snell from jumping to the NBA, you realize that Steve Alford is a selfish douchebag: you know the kind of guy who plays his kid too many minutes but does it because he's the coach and he can. Shame that this isn't Little League, but big-time college hoops. But in any event, I digress. We have some excellent results from our various non-revenue teams, so let's turn to the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse for this Monday morning:
- Beginning with John Speraw's #1-ranked men's volleyball team, the Bruins put their credentials to the test this past Monday night, taking on the defending national champion and #8-ranked UC Irvine Anteaters at Pauley Pavilion. And our Bruins made a statement of title-winning intent, dropping UC Irvine in straight sets, 3-0 (25-14, 25-23, 25-23). Led by a dominant effort by Gonzalo Quiroga (14 kills, 6 assists, 4 digs), with double-digit efforts by Robart Page (11 kills) and Michael Fisher (10 kills), not to mention Michael Beals' 63 assist effort, the Bruins made short work of Speraw's former charges. Showing true championship-mettle, the Bruins did not suffer a post-big win let-down on Thursday against UC San Diego in La Jolla, dropping the Tritons in straight sets, 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-20). The kills were spread around, but Page took the lead with 15 kills to lead UCLA to the Bruins' eighth-straight win. On the way back from San Diego, the Bruins took a stop in Orange County on Saturday, to once again take on the defending champions in Irvine. And while the Anteaters were able to avoid another straight-set sweep, the Bruins once again dropped Irvine, 3-1 (25-19, 25-21, 20-25, 25-18) to run their current win-streak to nine. In keeping with the season narrative so far, Page led UCLA in kills (16), while Quiroga put up a huge double-double effort (15 kills, 12 digs) to lead the Bruins to the win. Speraw's team now stands at 9-1 on the season and will next be in action in Malibu this Wednesday against Pepperdine as the Bruins look to win their 10th straight match. Kind of amazing what happens when you have an elite coach with a track record of success take over a program, rather than a sleazeball who will throw his players under the bus.
- Turning to the unranked women's basketball team, the Lady Bruins got their weekend set against the Washington schools off on the wrong foot on Friday night, falling to the Huskies 70-58 in Pauley Pavilion. While Corinne Costa posted her first career double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Atonye Nyingifa was her usual double-double excellent self (16 points, 12 rebounds), it wasn't enough for the Bruins to overcome a much deeper Washington squad. While the typically solid Nirra Fields (5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists) went missing in an otherwise listless performance for UCLA, unlike her male counterpart, Cori Close didn't throw her players under the bus. Fortunately, the Bruins responded on Sunday, coming out strong behind stand-out senior Nyingifa (30 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) to drop the Washington State Cougars, 79-72 on Sunday. Costa finished off a career weekend with another double-double effort (10 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks), while Fields picked up her game (16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals), which helped open up the floor for Thea Lemberger (21 points, 4 assists) to lead UCLA back to within one game of .500. With the split, the Lady Bruins now stand at 11-12 overall and 5-6 in conference play. They'll have most of the week off, taking on Southern Cal this upcoming Saturday.
- Flipping over to the #9-ranked women's gymnastics squad, the Bruins got their season back on track with a big win over #22-ranked Berkeley on Friday at Haas Pavilion, dropping the Bears, 196.575 to 195.550. The Bruins grabbed top spot in just two of the four events, with Olivia Courtney finishing on top of the all-around board (39.425), thanks to her top score on the vault (9.900), while Sydney Sawa took top spot on the floor exercise (9.925). But the name of the game was the team performance, with UCLA scoring a season-high 49.050 on the balance beam (which ironically, they didn't get the top individual spot), to help grab a big road win. The Bruins will return to Pauley Pavilion this upcoming Saturday to take on Arizona State and hopefully improve on their 2-2 record.
- Turning to tennis, the #2-ranked men's tennis team had a busy weekend in the Pac-12/SEC Challenge, beginning with a strong win on Saturday over #11-ranked Florida, 4-1. The Bruins didn't come out of the gate strong, dropping the doubles point to the Gators, but it would be the only point Florida would get, as the Bruins picked up four straight singles victories to take the win, with Clay Thompson (4-3, victory by retirement), Gage Brymer (6-1, 6-1), Mackenzie McDonald (6-4, 6-1), and Dennis Mkrtchian (6-3, 6-5(2)) picking up the wins. Sunday's match would push the Bruins to the limit, but they showed their championship contender credentials, escaping with a close 4-3 win over #4-ranked Georgia. Once again, the Bruins' SEC opposition came out with a doubles point to start the match. When Mkrtchian fell in the first singles' match (5-6, 1-6), the Bulldogs found themselves up 2-0, but the Bruins wouldn't wilt, battling back with Brymer (6-2, 6-3) and Marcos Giron (6-5(7), 6-3) picking up the next two singles' points to even things up. McDonald would then fall (5-6, 5-6) in a close battle, before Clay Thompson (6-4, 6-5(4)) forced it to the final singles' match, which would go all the way to the end, with Joseph Di Giulio narrowly beating Georgia's Hernus Pieters (6-0, 5-6(7), 6-4) to give UCLA the big win. With the pair of wins, the Bruins now stand at 5-0 on the year and will next take on St. Mary's in Moraga this upcoming Saturday.
- Unlike their male counterparts, the #5-ranked women's tennis team didn't have any trouble picking up a pair of wins this past week, beginning with a crushing 7-0 victory over Loyola Marymount in Westwood on Wednesday. UCLA opened it up with a dominating performance in doubles to pick up the opening point, and the tone was set for the rest of the day, with UCLA running off six straight singles wins, with Robin Anderson (6-1, 6-0), Catherine Harrison (6-2, 6-2), Chanelle Van Nguyen (7-5, 6-1), Kyle McPhillips (6-3, 6-1), Courtney Dolehide (6-2, 6-3), and Kelly Shaffer (6-3, 7-5) picking up the victories. The next day was more of the same, as the Bruins cruised to an easy destruction of UC Irvine, 7-0, in Westwood on Thursday. Once again, the Bruins opened up the match with a dominating pair of wins in doubles to take the opening point, followed by a clean sweep of singles action, with Anderson (6-0, 6-0), Harrison (6-3, 6-4), McPhillips (6-3, 6-2), Dolehide (6-4, 6-3), Shaffer (6-3, 6-4), and Van Nguyen (6-7, 6-0, 10-4) notching the individual wins. With the pair of wins, the Lady Bruins are 5-0, and will take a break from outdoor action until February 19 against Pepperdine.
- Turning to the #13-ranked softball team, the Lady Bruins will get their season underway this upcoming Thursday against Delaware. Too much rain? Too cold for softball in February? Don't worry: the Bruins will begin the season in sunny Honolulu on Thursday in the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic (say that three times fast). And heading into the season, the Lady Bruins have two players on the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List, with stand-out juniors Ally Carda and Stephany LaRosa both making the list.
- Finally, the #3-ranked women's water polo team went to Palo Alto this weekend for the Stanford Invitational, beginning with a pair of matches on Saturday. The morning match featured the Bruins taking on the Michigan Wolverines and the Lady Bruins came through with a dominating 12-3 win to open up the tournament. Becca Dorst led the Bruins to the win with four goals, while Rachel Fattal picked up the brace in a comfortable morning win. The early evening game on Saturday wouldn't be so easy, as the Bruins took on #4-ranked Berkeley, and it went to the limit, with UCLA winning 10-9 in double-overtime, scoring the winner through Emily Donohoe's fourth goal of the match with just 17 seconds left on the clock. The pair of wins advanced the Bruins to a semi-final match against San Jose State on Sunday morning, with the Bruins taking care of business against the Women of Sparta, winning 14-6. Led by hat-tricks by Victoria Kent and Danielle Ferraro, UCLA took control early in the first half, before trading goals with SJSU in the second half to advance to the tourney final against #2-ranked Stanford. With a shot at the #1-ranking on the line, the Bruins fell short in Palo Alto, losing to the Cardinal 8-4. Fattal led the Bruins with a brace, but the Cardinal took control in the third quarter and the Bruins were never able to mount a comeback against Stanford's stout defense. With the tourney in the books, the Bruins now stand at 11-1 and will next be in action this Thursday in Irvine against UC Irvine. While the tourney loss is disappointing, you got to feel like coach Brandon Brooks didn't throw his team under the bus for their offensive non-performance in the tourney title game, unlike a certain hoops head "coach" we know.
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.