It's Monday morning and we're about to descend into March Madness, but before we begin breaking down our upcoming battle with Tulsa (we're hoping Steve doesn't choke in the first round like last year, especially given that this squad has the talent to make it to at least the Elite Eight), we take a few minutes to recap the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
--- Beginning with the #3-ranked softball team, the Bruins got their Pac-12 conference slate started this weekend, hosting #6-ranked Arizona in Westwood. In a tight pitchers' duel, junior Ally Carda (7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 K) went the distance to earn her fourteenth win on the year, with the Bruins winning 1-0. Carda's battery-mate, C Brittany Moeai (1-3, 1 RBI) drove in the game's only run in the bottom of the fourth, and it would be just enough for a UCLA victory on Saturday. Sunday brought a much more thrilling contest, with UCLA coming from behind in a big way in the bottom of the seventh to win it 8-4. Jessica Hall (6.0 IP, 2 ER, 9 K) threw a solid game, but wasn't able to finish it out, with Carda (1.0 IP, 1 ER, 0 K) coming on in the seventh and picking up her fifteenth win on the year. The Bruins took an early 3-0 lead after the first inning, but a three-run Wildcat top of the seventh forced UCLA to have to come from behind. 3B Mysha Sataraka (1-2, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 HR) tied it up in the bottom of the seventh with a solo shot, before 2B Gracie Goulder (1-3, 1 R, 4 RBI, 1 HR) blasted a walk-off grand slam to win it for the Bruins. With the pair of wins, the Lady Bruins are now at 25-1 overall and 2-0 in Pac-12 play; they'll look for a series sweep this evening when they take on Arizona in the third game at 5 p.m. at Easton Stadium, before taking the week off and heading up to Seattle for a three game set against Washington next weekend.
--- Flipping over to the #7-ranked women's gymnastics team, the Bruins hosted a three-way meet at Pauley Pavilion against Bowling Green and Utah State, which also marked senior night for the squad. And, of course, the seniors got the proper send-off, finishing first with a score of 197.050, finishing comfortably ahead of Utah State (196.00) and Bowling Green (194.175). The Bruins grabbed the top three spots in every event, with Samatha Peszek putting up a dominating 39.700 on the all-around to finish on top. But, despite the UCLA domination on senior night, the story of the night was the perfect 10 posted by sophomore Danusia Francis on the balance beam (Peszek finishing second-highest with a 9.925). The Bruins will have a week off before heading up to Berkeley for the Pac-12 championships on Saturday.
--- Turning to the #6-ranked women's sand volleyball team, the Lady Bruins had a rough week, losing their only match to #4-ranked Florida State, 5-0. Skylar Dykstra and Jennie Frager (18-21, 12-21) were roughed up early and it only went downhill from there, with Taylor Formico/Karsta Lowe (23-25, 12-21) falling, with Karly Drolson/Rachel Inouye's loss (16-21, 7-21) loss giving Florida State the clincher. With the loss, the Bruins are now 3-1 on the year and will take a couple of weeks off before heading north to Marin County for the USF Invitational, beginning with a duel against the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine on Thursday, March 27.
--- Looking over to the tennis courts, beginning with the #3-ranked men's tennis team, the title contenders were upset in their only match of the week, losing to #12-ranked Baylor at home, 4-2. Baylor came out strong, picking up the doubles point to open the match, but Karue Sell (6-3, 6-4) got UCLA notched up at one apiece. Baylor bounced right back, with Mackenzie McDonald (3-6, 4-6) and Joseph Di Giulio (6-7, 2-6) both losing. With the match on the line, Gage Brymer (6-2, 7-5) came up with a big win, but Clay Thompson (6-7, 4-6) would fall next to give Baylor the win. With the loss, the Bruins fall to 11-2 overall and will take some time off before running a double-header against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and LMU on Tuesday, March 25.
--- While the men may have fallen, their female counterparts, the #3-ranked women's tennis squad had no problem putting down #18-ranked Baylor this past week, winning 4-1. The Lady Bruins opened things up by taking the doubles point, with Robin Anderson (6-0, 6-3) quickly dispatching her Baylor opponent to give UCLA a solid 2-0 lead early. Chanelle Van Nguyen (3-6, 2-6) would fall, but it would be Baylor's only point, as Kyle McPhillips (6-3, 6-2) and Jennifer Brady (7-5, 6-4) would go on to win to clinch it for UCLA. With the early week win over Baylor, the Bruins found themselves ranked #1 in the nation entering Pac-12 play against Utah on Friday. And the potential champs had no problem beginning conference play strong, dropping Utah 5-0. UCLA followed the script against Baylor, opening the match by taking the doubles point, followed by a blitzing win by Anderson (6-2, 6-1) to start UCLA off with a 2-0 lead. Unlike Baylor, Van Nguyen (6-1, 6-4) picked up the next game, with Brady (6-3, 6-0) and Catherine Harrison (6-4, 6-3) winning the last two to give UCLA a sweep win over the Utes. Finally, the Lady Bruins would wrap up the weekend with a 4-0 clean sweep of Colorado in Boulder on Sunday. Another match, another dominating performance on doubles to pick up the first point, followed by the same smash-and-grab win by Anderson (6-0, 6-0) to give UCLA a commanding lead to start. Van Nguyen (6-0, 6-0) made short work of her opponent, before Brady (6-4, 6-1) put away her Buff opponent to give UCLA the win. With the three victories, UCLA now stands at 14-1 on the year and will head to the Pacific Northwest this weekend to take on the Huskies in Seattle.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites for this Monday morning. Fire away in the comment section with your thoughts, additions, or other bits of UCLA-related news.