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UCLA Olympic Sports Roundup: Volleyball Conquers Arizona

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A review of last week's action for UCLA's Olympic sports, including a pair of big wins for UCLA Women's Volleyball against the Arizona schools.

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Women's Volleyball

The Bruins played fantastic volleyball against #14 Arizona and #10 Arizona State last weekend. It started with a sweep of the Wildcats on Friday, with the Bruins taking control of the match early to earn a 25-26, 25-18, 25-22 victory.

Even if you aren't a fan of volleyball, the highlights are worth viewing if for nothing more than Coach Scates' intelligent commentary.

Reily Buechler was the star on Friday with 16 kills and no errors in 31 swings (.516). Jordan Anderson had 16 kills as well, and middle blockers Claire Felix and Jennie Frager combined for nine kills with a single error in 19 attacks. Taylor Formico collected 14 digs in leading the Bruins' defense.

Although the Sun Devils were scrambling to replace the production and leadership of All-American Macey Gardner--recently lost for the season with an ACL tear--anyone who watched ASU battle against #1 Southern Cal on Friday knew that Arizona State was still a very talented, dangerous team. But the Bruins recent run of outstanding form made them too good for the Sun Devils. UCLA again started strong, and claimed the sweep in a tightly-contested third set. The final set scores were 25-21, 25-16, 30-28.

Jordan Anderson led the Bruins with 15 kills, but she also led the team with 13 hitting errors--definitely not one of her better games. Reily Buechler continued her hot hitting with 12 kills, but the real strength of the UCLA attack came through the middle. Jennie Frager and Claire Felix combined for 23 kills without error for an amazing .639 attack percentage.

Setter Ryann Chandler registered 43 assists and made consistently excellent decisions with the ball while contributing 14 digs in defense. Taylor Formico had another terrific game in the back, adding 15 digs and 7 assists. Defensive specialists Rachel Inouye and Karly Drolson continued their solid play too, with each collecting 7 digs.

Coach Sealy has his team playing great defense at the moment, and as long as the Bruins maintain that level of defensive intensity, they should be able to extend their five game winning streak against seventh-place, 25th-ranked Oregon (10-7, 4-4) and tenth-place Oregon State (2-6, 4-14) this weekend.

UCLA currently holds down third place in the Pac-12, half a game ahead of Stanford and half a game behind Washington. The Bruins are tenth in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll, behind #1 USC and #4 Washington, and ahead of #11 Stanford. Clearly, UCLA can't afford to drop either match this weekend.

Finally, congratulations to Reily Buechler for being named ESPNW's volleyball player of the week!

Men's Water Polo

Add two more wins to #1 UCLA's season total. The reigning national champions traveled north last weekend for a difficult matchup with #4 Stanford. No challenge is too big for the Bruins this season, and as they showed on Saturday, the Bruins are playing better than any team in the country right now. The final score was 12-8, with hat tricks for Patrick Fellner, Anthony Daboub, and Daniel McClintick. Max Irving added a brace, and Garrett Danner collected 11 saves.

On Sunday, the Bruins were in San Jose, and there was plenty of pool time for UCLA's bench players as the Bruins blanked the Spartans, 10-0. Freshman Alex Wolf made his first MPSF start in goal, registering 16 saves in earning his first career shutout. Junior Ryder Roberts, redshirt freshman Austin Rone, and sophomore Jack Grover each tallied a brace.

The Bruins have now defeated #2 USC, #3 California (twice), and #4 Stanford (twice). On Saturday the Bruins (19-0, 3-0) will battle Cal (16-3, 2-0) again. With both teams undefeated in conference play, the game has huge implications for the MPSF title chase. Then on Sunday, the Bruins travel to Irvine to take on the #7 Anteaters. It certainly won't be easy for the Bruins to add another pair of wins to their total, but Coach Wright's squad is up to the challenge.

Men's Soccer

The Jekyll and Hyde Bruins had another week of mixed results and inconsistent performances. The weekend started on a sour note with the Bruins dropping a match to Stanford despite dominating play. Once again the culprit was the Bruins' shaky defense. Two errors in back led to two giveaways, and the two giveaways led to two goals.

The first came just a minute before the halftime whistle. The Bruins recovered well, though, with an unassisted goal by Abu Danladi less than three minutes into the second half. But in the 65th minute, Stanford struck a second time when UCLA turned over possession deep in its half, and Stanford's Jordan Morris thundered the ball past Bruins' goalkeeper Juan Cervantes.

Unfortunately UCLA's dominance in time of possession and shots didn't add up to a second equalizer, and the Bruins were left with another "not good enough" performance that puts Stanford in excellent position to claim the 2015 Pac-12 title.

Monday's 6-0 demolition of Cal showed how good the Bruins can be when they put together a complete game from front to back.

Defender Javan Torre scored the opener for UCLA with a powerful header from a corner kick by Chase Gaspar. Abu Danladi then scored a pair goals, starting with a marvellous, length-of-the-field run in which he beat several defenders before slicing his shot past the Cal 'keeper and into the far corner of the goal. Danladi's second of the night came less than four minutes later when he intercepted a back pass and stabbed the ball through the legs of the goalie.

The second half unfolded much the same as the first. Jackson Yueill gave the Bruins a four-goal lead with a blast into the upper far corner from a pass by Seyi Adekoya. Less than 30 seconds later, Adekoya increased UCLA's lead to five when he tapped in a pass from Jose Hernandez. Felix Vobejda closed out the scoring less than three minutes later when his shot from the wing caromed off a defender into the back of the net.

The final scoreline reflected UCLA's dominance in all facets of the game. UCLA goalkeeper Juan Cervantes had an easy night as the Bruins defense held Cal to just three shots, none of which were on goal.

In spite of wildly inconsistent play so far this season, the Bruins are on track to finish second in the conference and likely earn a tournament bid. UCLA (7-6-0, 3-2-0) heads to the Bay Area this weekend for rematches with #3 Stanford (11-1-1, 4-0-1) and California (5-5-2, 0-3-2).

Although Stanford has an impressive record, the difference between the Bruins and the Cardinal is small, as last week's matchup demonstrated. If UCLA can avoid its propensity for committing costly errors in defense, the Bruins could--and should--edge Stanford before crushing Cal again. However, inconsistency is the defining characteristic of this year's team, so there's no way of knowing how the Bruins will respond in an important road game with a chance to get back into the conference title race. Let's hope that the Bruins learned from last week's mistakes.

Women's Soccer

Simply put, the Bruins didn't enjoy their trip to Corvallis. In a game that the Bruins really needed to win to boost their chances of postseason play, Admittedly, the pitch in Corvallis is difficult for visitors; as I mentioned in my match preview, it's a bit like playing on a shag carpet. So it really didn't come as a shock when the Beavers took the lead inside 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, the Bruins never fully came to grips with the conditions and failed to dominate the action for significant stretches. It was a case of UCLA chasing the game but not producing enough of a cutting edge to threaten an equalizer. When OSU notched a second goal in the 85th minute, UCLA's chance appeared gone. Darian Jenkins made the final two minutes interesting when she scored in the 88th minute, but it proved too little, too late for the Bruins.

The loss dropped the Bruins (6-7-1, 2-3-1) into seventh place in the conference with absolutely no margin for error for the remainder of the Pac-12 season. UCLA should be able to improve its position this weekend with a pair of home matches against tenth-place Colorado (7-6-2, 1-4-1) and ninth-place Utah (5-7-3, 2-4-0). Two wins will keep the Bruins' slim hopes for a postseason berth alive; anything less than that will surely mean that UCLA will miss the NCA tournament for the first time this decade.

This Week In UCLA Sports

Thursday, October 22

  • UCLA Football vs. California in Pasadena, CA (6:00 PM PT)
Friday, October 23
  • UCLA Cross Country at the Titan Invitational in Fullerton, CA (4:45 PM PT)
  • UCLA Women's Soccer vs. Colorado at Drake Stadium (6:00 PM PT)
  • UCLA Women's Volleyball vs. Oregon in Eugene, OR (6:00 PM PT)
  • UCLA Men's Soccer vs. Stanford in Palo Alto, CA (8:00 PM PT)

Saturday, October 24

  • UCLA Men's Volleyball at USC Fall Tournament in Los Angeles (All Day)
  • UCLA Sand Volleyball at the Endless Summer Event in Huntington Beach, CA (All Day)
  • UCLA Men's Water Polo vs. #3 California at Spieker Aquatics Center (10:30 AM PT)
  • UCLA Softball vs. Cal State Fullerton in Los Angeles, CA (11:00 AM PT)
  • UCLA Swimming & Diving in Santa Barbara, CA (12:00 PM PT)

Sunday, October 25

  • UCLA Women's Volleyball vs. Oregon State in Corvallis, OR (12:00 PM PT)
  • UCLA Women's Soccer vs. Utah at Drake Stadium (1:00 PM PT)
  • UCLA Men's Water Polo vs. UC Irvine in Irvine, CA (2:00 PM PT)
  • UCLA Men's Soccer vs. California in Berkeley, CA (3:00 PM PT)
That's your UCLA Olympic sports roundup for the week. With plenty of action scheduled throughout the week, including a critical road trip for UCLA Men's Soccer, be sure to check Bruins Nation for previews, updates and final results.

Go BRUINS!