UCLA Women's Volleyball
Opponent: #6 Stanford (21-6, 15-4)
When: 8:00 PM PST, Friday, November 27, 2015
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
Audio: Bruin Live Audio
Video: Pac-12 Networks
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
The 13th-ranked Bruins kicked off Beat$C week with a 3-2 victory over the Trojans on Wednesday night. It was a huge win, and not just because it was a rivalry game. Southern Cal entered the contest as the top-ranked team in the country, with only a loss to #2 Washington separating the Trojans from an unbeaten record. With the start of the NCAA Tournament just a week away, maybe, just maybe, the big win against Southern Cal will give the Bruins the confidence to compete with and beat the best teams in the country. And maybe, just maybe, it will help the Bruins get past #6 Stanford tonight.
It may not seem like a big prize, but third place in the Pac-12 is up for grabs tonight. With a win, the Bruins (23-6, 14-5) can catch Stanford (21-6, 15-4) in the conference, and would be awarded third place on the basis of the head-to-head competition tiebreaker. Again, third place may not seem like a great prize, but given the highly competitive West Coast market for volleyball recruits, finishing ahead of the Cardinal might give Coach Sealy a boost in his recruiting efforts. Furthermore, it will another indication that the program is moving in the right direction after three straight seasons outside the top-3 in the conference.
If the Bruins are going to pull off another upset tonight, they'll need to turn in another outstanding defensive performance like they did against the Trojans. The Bruins struggled to contain All-American Samantha Bricio--she had 23 kills and hit .317--but they were effective in making the Southern Cal attack one-dimensional. Aside from Claire Felix, the UCLA attack wasn't particularly efficient, but it was balanced, and it got the job done. Four Bruins finished with double-digit kill totals: Jordan Anderson (14), Jessyka Ngauamo (13), Reily Buechler (12), and Claire Felix (10). Another four Bruins notched double digits in digs: Taylor Formico (28), Zana Muno (19), Karly Drolson (12), and Jessyka Ngauamo (11). Zana Muno added 40 assists, giving her 15 double-doubles for the season.
Stanford enters tonight's contest with a four game winning streak. The Cardinal is one of the best attacking teams in the conference; Stanford is hitting .277--50 points higher than UCLA. Freshman Hayley Hodson leads the Cardinal attack with an average of 3.83 kills/set. But Stanford has a variety of weapons and it runs a balanced attack through senior setter Madi Bugg, the conference's leader in assists per set. Redshirt sophomore Merete Lutz (3.17 kills/set) and senior Brittany Howard (2.99 kills/set) are two of Bugg's favorite targets along with Hodson.
With a win tonight, the Bruins will enter the NCAA Tournament with a lot of momentum. With a loss, UCLA will finish with a 3-3 record in the final three weeks of the regular season. A win will snap UCLA's six game losing streak to Stanford. A loss will extend that streak. It's time for UCLA Women's Volleyball to take a step forward, and that will require stomping Stanford tonight.
No rest for the weary. We host #6 Stanford tomorrow at 8 at Pauley. Come salute our seniors and let's pack Pauley. pic.twitter.com/0zHLdU9OcJ— UCLA Women's VB (@UCLAWomensVB) November 26, 2015