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No. 18 UCLA Women’s Volleyball Faces Toughest Test of the Year at No. 4 Stanford

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The Bruins did sweep the Cardinal last year but lost in their previous bout.

Joe Piechowski

UCLA women’s volleyball had all the chances to capture its fourth consecutive victory. Two of the four sets went into extra points, exhibiting how close the affair was between the two squads.

And yet, the Bruins failed to send the match into a fifth set and complete a flawless home stretch.

No. 17 Utah (19-8, 10-6 Pac-12) defeated No. 18 UCLA (16-9, 9-7) in four sets to thwart the Bruins from gaining more ground in the conference standings. The Utes currently sit in fourth in the Pac-12.

Neither team deserved the victory when looking at the numbers. Both teams boasted a .263 hitting percentage in the first set – the highest percentage either team posted all evening.

The most confounding stat came in the third set, as UCLA sported a .191 hit percentage next to Utah’s .023 percentage. The Utes came away with the set despite committing fewer kills and more errors.

Although the Utes possess several threats on the offensive end, the plan revolved around Adora Anae, their proficient outside hitter. The senior garnered 29 kills, a game high for both clubs. But the rest of the squad didn’t fill up the stat sheet, as the next highest kill tallies were six and five.

On the opposite side of the court, three players accrued a majority of the Bruins’ kills – senior pin hitter Reily Buechler, freshman outside hitter Jenny Mosser and sophomore blocker Madeleine Gates. Buechler once again led the crew in the category, recording 22 kills on the evening.

Although the Bruins couldn’t cap off their homestead with a victory, they have an opportunity to claim one of biggest victories in recent seasons at No. 4 Stanford (22-3, 15-1) Thursday.

Kathryn Plummer remains a top-10 option at the net, as she ranks seventh in the nation in kills per set. The Cardinal also have one of the nation’s top setters in Jenna Gray, who sits fourth in the nation in that category.

More importantly, Stanford has lost just one bout in conference play – to No. 13 Washington last week. But the Cardinal have had success against the Bruins in recent years, boasting a 10-5 record against them since 2010.

However, UCLA did thrash Stanford on both occasions last year, doing so for the first time since 2011. If the Bruins can reignite whatever they had in those two instances, they can exit Maples Pavilion with its best win of the season.

This is your UCLA women’s volleyball vs. Stanford game thread.