It took five sets but, the UCLA Women's Volleyball team won a thrilling, come-from-behind match tonight against the Michigan Wolverines.
It looked like the Bruins' season might be over after Michigan won the first two hard-fought sets by scores of 25-23 and 26-24.
The reality is that the Bruins probably should have won the second set if not for a bad call by one of the referees. No, these weren't Pac-12 refs. This is the NCAA tournament and the officials are from the NCAA.
The Bruins blocked a shot at the net which seemed to be touched by someone on the Michigan team before going out of bounds, but the official on the opposite side of the court called the point for Michigan and Bruin Coach Michael Sealy was not happy. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there is no replay in women's volleyball and so they couldn't go to a replay review. This cost the Bruins a point and gave Michigan a 24-23 lead. On the very next play, Claire Felix hammered one home with a vengeance to tie the score at 24. If the disputed call had gone the Bruins' way, the set would have gone to UCLA.
Thankfully, it didn't matter ultimately.
After the break, the Bruins came out like a team on a mission and scored 6 of the first 7 points to take a 6-1 lead. UCLA never trailed in this set and won this one by a score of 25-22.
The fourth set was tougher than the third. Early in the fourth, there were eight tie scores and four lead changes, but Michigan's hitting percentage was only .043 for the set and once UCLA took the lead 12-11 on an attack error by Michigan's Caroline Knop, the Bruins were unstoppable as they won the fourth set 25-20.
That tied the match at two sets a piece and the teams went to a deciding fifth set.
It started off close again. Michigan tied the score at 3-3 on a kill by Knop, but the Wolverines couldn't capitalize and the Bruins took control of the set. With UCLA ahead 8-4, the teams switched sides for the remainder of the set.
But Michigan couldn't close the gap and the Bruins closed out the set 15-11 for the win.
Jessyka Ngauamo and Claire Felix led the Bruins with 17 kills each while Caroline Knop lead Michigan with 17 kills too. Zana Muno again led the Bruins with 35 assists and Taylor Formico and Rachel Drolson both had 20 digs each.
The victory means the Bruins will now advance to the Austin Regional next weekend as the NCAA Tournament continues.