UCLA women’s volleyball is accustomed to playing nationally ranked teams, as they have already faced four currently ranked clubs in 2017.
But the strength of the schedule won’t wane as the Bruins move forward, as the Pac-12 boasts six top-25 teams. And although the most daunting match may not come until Oct. 13 at Stanford, Friday’s matchup will be provide the somewhat young squad with a challenge.
Following a comeback victory over No. 8 Oregon, No. 13 UCLA (8-3, 1-1 Pac-12) hosts No. 6 Washington (12-1, 2-0) with an opportunity to claim back-to-back ranked victories for the first time this season.
Against ranked opponents, the Bruins have required time to heat up. They have yet to claim a first set in such games. Yet, last week’s matchup was the first instance in which UCLA rallied back to clinch the victory.
The Bruins flourished behind a three-headed attack, consisting of senior pin hitter Reily Buechler, sophomore middle blocker Madeleine Gates and freshman pin hitter Mac May, who leads the team in kills. They carried the team with 12, 17 and 11 kills, respectively.
UCLA’s hammering squad at the net will need to be in full force to break through a resilient Washington team. The Huskies have lost just 10 conference matches since 2013.
The Huskies are experienced and full of several offensive weapons and defensive stalwarts.
Freshman blocker Lauren Sanders and senior blocker Marion Hazlewood act as a formidable shield at the net, as they each post several blockers per match. Sanders has compiled the fourth-most blocks per set in the nation. Washington is second in the nation in blocks per set overall.
Several players also have impressive attacking capabilities, but two stand above the rest: senior outside hitters Courtney Schwan and Carly DeHoog. Both have garnered more than 130 kills.
It has been a little less than five years since the Bruins defeated the Huskies, but they conquered them at home in 2010, 2011 and 2012. With the victory, UCLA could find itself in the top 10 in the national rankings as well.
This is your UCLA women’s volleyball vs. Washington game thread.