The #11 UCLA women’s volleyball team was originally supposed to open the season in Hawai’i at the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic where they were scheduled to play Kansas State, Gonzaga and Hawai’i.
But Hurricane Lane forced the team to change their plans.
So, instead, the Bruins will host games against Gonzaga today and tomorrow at the John Wooden Center. Admission is free for each match.
Since the season starts today, I’m going to preview this year’s team.
2018 Women’s Volleyball Preview
UCLA in 2017
Last year, the women’s volleyball team finished 21-11 overall. Coach Michael Seely took last year’s team to the NCAA Tournament, hosting the first and second rounds against Austin Peay and Cal Poly. But, the team was outmatched in the Regional Semifinal against Florida and lost the match 1-3.
The Bruins have lost five players from last season. Reilly Buechler and Taylor Schlener have graduated while Sarah Sponcil has exhausted her indoor eligibility. Sponcil does still have a year of eligibility for beach volleyball.
Underclassmen Jamie Robbins and Katie Jacobs have left the team this year as well.
Michael Seely has recruited seven incoming freshmen this season. Hawley Harrer played four different sports at Sisters High School in Sisters, Oregon. Devon Chang is a setter who was the California Gatorade State Player of the Year last year while Kaitlyn Kao comes to UCLA from St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano. Sawyer Aigner-Swesey is a defensive specialist and libero from Wrightwood who was a four-year starter at Serrano High School. Outside hitter Lexi Hadrych earned AVCA/Under Armour Second Team All-American honors at Vista Murrieta High School. Tristin Savage is a middle blocker from Dallas, Oregon who led her HS team to a seventh-place finish statewide. Kelsey Campeau is a defensive specialist and libero who was a MaxPreps First Team All-American and finished her high school career as the all-time digs leader at Mater Dei HS in Orange County.
It seems like every year the team starts off highly ranked and then manages to play inconsistently enough to keep them from winning the Pac-12 title. Then, when it comes time to play in the NCAA Tournament, they are able to win a few matches and then stumble in the Regionals.
This year’s team enters the season ranked 11th in the country. But, can Michael Seely finally lead the team to a Pac-12 title? Can he get them past an NCAA Regional Final for the first time since the Bruins last won a national championship in 2011?
Sure, Seely led the team to a title seven years ago and he’s kept the team consistently ranked in the top 25, but he seems to be unable to advance his teams deep into the NCAA Tournament and some of his in-match strategy has been questionable.
He needs to find a way to take this team to the next level.