UCLA Women's Volleyball
Opponent: Oregon State (5-20, 3-12)
When: 11:00 AM PST, Sunday, November 15, 2015
Where: John Wooden Center, Los Angeles, CA
Video: Pac-12 Networks
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
The title of my preview for the Bruins' match against the Ducks on Thursday was "UCLA Women's Volleyball: Still in the Hunt for the Pac-12 Title." Unfortunately I can't use that headline today because the Bruins couldn't take care of business against Oregon.
The final 3-2 score (17-25, 25-17, 27-25, 23-25, 15-12) is a bit misleading since it doesn't show how anemic the Bruins' attack was after the first set. UCLA hit above .100 in only one of the final four sets, and hit a measly .037 in the fifth set.
As usual, Jordan Anderson led UCLA with 19 kills, but her 11 hitting errors also led the team. Freshman Kyra Rogers was probably the best of the attackers, notching 10 kills with a .240 hitting percentage in three sets. Jessyka Ngauamo added 10 kills, but like Anderson, wasn't very efficient in attack. Reily Buechler saw limited court time as she tries to work her way back from injury.
With setter Ryann Chandler still sidelined, freshman Zana Muno extended her streak of double-doubles with 51 assists and 21 digs. Libero Taylor Formico led UCLA with 23 digs, and defensive specialist Karly Drolson chipped in with 13 digs.
Overall, there's not much to say about the loss to the Ducks other than the Bruins weren't close to their best. Although Oregon is a "middle of the Pac" team, the Ducks are probably a top-35 team and are good enough to punish any opponent on an off-night.
However, today's opponent--the Beavers--aren't nearly as good as their in-state rivals. Oregon State (5-20, 3-12) is tied for last place in the Pac-12, and shouldn't present a problem for the Bruins, even if UCLA doesn't bring its A-game. That said, when the two teams three weeks ago in Corvallis, the #9 Bruins needed five sets to hold off the Beavers.
UCLA is currently tied with Stanford for third place in the Pac-12, three games behind the Trojans and two games behind the Huskies. After Thursday's loss, the Bruins no longer have a realistic shot at the conference title this season. But with a four-game cushion over three fifth-place teams, UCLA has all but secured a top-4 finish in the Pac-12.
At this point, it would be a huge step forward for the program if the Bruins can beat Stanford in the season finale and finish ahead of Stanford in the conference standings. It may seem like a small thing, but considering Stanford's dominance in recent years, finishing above the Cardinal would be a welcome sign that UCLA may be on the verge of becoming an elite west coast volleyball program again.
First things first, though. The Bruins need a victory against the Beavers today to stay even with Stanford. It's not a difficult task, but as Thursday's game showed, it's not something that can be taken lightly.
UCLA Men's Water Polo
Opponent: #4 Southern California (18-4, 6-2)
When: 1:00 PM PST, Sunday, November 15, 2015
Where: Spieker Aquatics Center, Los Angeles, CA
Video: Pac-12 Networks
Live Stats: None
It's Senior Day for the undefeated Bruins (24-0, 8-0). It's also the regular season finale. Best of all, it's the #1 Bruins vs. the #4 Trojans (18-4, 6-2). The game is sold out (except for a few tickets reserved for students), but it's being televised on the Pac-12 Networks, so you can still catch the action at Spieker even if you don't have a ticket.
Although it's often been the case that the winner of the annual UCLA-USC game wins the MPSF title, it isn't going to happen that way this season. The Bruins have already clinched the regular season championship and are the top-seeded team heading into the conference tournament. In fact, the Trojans can't even secure the second-seed with a victory today; Pacific has already locked up that spot. USC is currently tied with Cal for third place in the MPSF.
Of course rivalry games are intense regardless of regular season and postseason implications. The fact that the Trojans find themselves playing their rival in a regular season finale that has no significant consequences must be a bitter pill to swallow, and I suspect it will make them less cautious in the way they approach this game. I expect to see a very aggressive approach from Southern Cal from the start. For what it's worth, UCLA beat $C 10-9 in the Kap7 SoCal Invitational championship game a month ago.
The 2015 UCLA Men's Water Polo team is an incredibly special group of players and coaches. The fact that only two members of the team are seniors is amazing. But those two seniors are tremendous players, and I want to mention them here:
Daboub was a Third Team All-American and Second Team All-MPSF last year, and he's played at an even higher level in 2015. McClintick was Honorable Mention All-American and MPSF All-Academic in 2014, and he was selected as the MVP of last season's NCAA Tournament after he netted four goals in the final against Southern Cal. Both Daboub and McClintick are outstanding players and outstanding student-athletes in the way they've represented the four letters.
Go BRUINS! Beat $C!