The UCLA women’s volleyball team opens play in the NCAA Tournament this afternoon when they face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the UW Field House in Madison, Wisconsin today at 2:30 pm PT.
Last Time Out
The Bruins finished up the regular season with a 3-0 sweep of Southern Cal at the Galen Center on Friday. Mac May led both teams with 17 kills and 14 digs while Cali Thompson led with 20 assists. Devon Chang added 15 assists while Savvy Simo had 12 digs and Kelli Barry added 11 digs.
The first set was a tough one and the teams were tied 21-21 late in the set, but the Bruins scored four of the final five points to close it out. UCLA scored the first four points in the second set and never led by less than four after that as the Bruins cruised to a 25-17 win. They almost lost the third set but, down 24-23 and facing a set point for the first time in the match, UCLA battled back to take a 25-24 lead. Southern Cal came back to tie it at 25-25 and again at 26-26. A service error by Southern Cal gave the Bruins their third match point. Mac May ended the match with her 17th and final kill as UCLA won the final set, 28-26.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame finished the regular season with a 19-9 record, but the record doesn’t tell the whole story here as the Irish have lost three of their last five. So, they’ve kind of limped into the NCAA Tournament. Not so coincidentally, those three matches were all away from South Bend.
That gives the Bruins an advantage this afternoon since UCLA has won their last four matches including a pair on the road. The Bruins have also won five of the last six. UCLA’s only loss during that time came against Stanford at Maples Pavilion.
The key to today’s match will be if the Bruins can get the Fighting Irish to commit attack errors. UCLA has a team hitting percentage of .252 to Notre Dame’s .207 and the Irish have made more than 100 more attack errors over the course of the season. It’s also worth noting that Notre Dame’s top attackers have a significantly lower hitting percentage than UCLA’s attackers.
So, I’m going to make a bold prediction here by picking UCLA to win today’s match in a three-set sweep.
This is your UCLA women’s volleyball NCAA First Round open thread.