The UCLA Women’s Volleyball team opens the 2016 season this afternoon when they face Niagara University at 4pm as part of the LMU Invitational. Before we get into the preview, here’s the information about today’s match:
Opponent: Niagara University Purple Eagles
When: August 26, 2016, 4 p.m. PT
Where: Gersten Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
How to Watch, Listen and Follow:
The comment section for this preview is also your open thread for the today’s match.
Now, let’s preview this year’s team.
2016 UCLA Women’s Volleyball Preview
UCLA in 2015
Last year, the women’s volleyball team finished 25-8 overall. Coach Michael Seely took last year’s team to the NCAA Tournament, hosting the first and second rounds against Lipscomb and Michigan. But, the young team was outmatched in the Regional Semifinal against Texas and lost the match 1-3.
This year’s team loses four women from last season. The biggest losses will be Karly Drolson and Rachel Inouye, both of whom played in all 123 sets for UCLA. The Bruins also lose Michaela Leonard and Maddy Klineman who both played sparingly last season. Jessyka Ngaumo is also not returning this year.
UCLA adds five freshmen this season. Kylie Miller, who was an Under Armour First Team All-American as a senior at Rancho Cucamonga HS last year. Jamie Robbins and Torrey Van Winden both play outside hitter. Madeleine Gates from La Jolla HS in San Diego is a middle blocker who was named to the Under Armour All-America Second Team in 2015. And, Savvy Simo will play both defensive specialist and outside hitter.
A More Experienced Team
This year’s team looks like a much more experienced team as there are 11 letter-winners returning. The team should be led by its All-American trio, outside hitter Jordan Anderson, middle blocker Claire Felix and libero Taylor Formico. They’ll get support from underclassmen outside hitter Reily Buechler and Zana Muno. Muno moves from setter to defensive specialist this season.
The team has made it as far as the Regional Semifinals two years in a row. It’s time for the team to step up its game and restore the proud tradition of women’s volleyball at UCLA.
The team needs to challenge for the Pac-12 title as well as the national title.
That’s possible as they are ranked 12th in the country before the season opens but the team’s leaders are going to need to lead this team to the next level and not be satisfied with making it to the Regional Semifinals this year.
While the face Niagara this afternoon and Illinois State tomorrow morning, their first true test will occur tomorrow evening when they face the #21 LMU Lions.