UCLA Women's Volleyball
Opponent: #24 Arizona State (19-8, 8-8)
When: 6:00 PM PST, Friday, November 20, 2015
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, AZ
Video: Pac-12 Networks
Live Stats: ASU StatBroadcast
Arizona State hasn't been the same since it lost All-American OH Macey Gardner to a season-ending ACL injury on October 9th against the Huskies. The Sun Devils were undefeated going into that match, but they picked up their first loss of the season that day, and they've lost 7 of their 11 matches since, including a 3-0 loss to the Bruins in Los Angeles last month.
Gardner may have been ASU's best weapon, and the Sun Devil's may have been too reliant on her, but there's still a lot of talent on the court. Senior Whitney Follette, junior BreElle Bailey, and junior Cassidy Pickrell give the Sun Devils a strong trio of attackers, and ASU has done a terrific job of balancing their attack after the loss of Gardner. In my opinion, Bailey is the most dangerous of the three. At 6'4", she's a difficult matchup on the outside, and although she's a streaky hitter, she's a real handful when she's on.
The Bruins have weathered a rash of injuries relatively well, although they did drop a match last week to the Ducks. Reily Buechler is back, and played fairly well against the Beavers last week, totalling 16 kills and 7 digs. Setter Ryann Chandler is still out, though, which means that freshman Zana Muno will start again in her absence. Muno had two more double-doubles last week to give her a streak of 8 straight games with double digits in assists and digs. Freshman Kyra Rogers continues to earn increased playing time as she makes the transition from middle blocker to outside attacker. The Bruins need improved, consistent production from their third OH if they're going to compete with the best teams in the country,
Although the Bruins are the better team, this is the kind of match that has caused UCLA problems the past few years. If the Bruins hope to secure a top-16 spot in the NCAA Tournament field, they can't afford to lose games like this. Furthermore, if UCLA is going to keep alive its chance of overtaking Stanford for third place in the Pac-12, today's game is a must-win.
UCLA Women's Basketball
Opponent: James Madison (2-0)
When: 7:00 PM PST, Friday, November 20, 2015
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
Audio: Bruin Live Audio
Video: UCLA Live Stream
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
In case you missed it, one of UCLA's basketball teams won its opener. No, Coach Close's team was not playing an opponent the caliber of mighty Monmouth. Instead, UCLA Women's Basketball opened their season against #33 St. John's with a solid 73-58 victory.
Jordin Canada demonstrated once again that she has the potential to become an elite player at both ends of the court. It's clear that her shooting has improved over the summer, and she proved it in the first game of 2015 with 23 points on 10-19 shooting from the field. She also had 5 assists, 2 steals and just 2 turnovers--a marked improvement on her assist-to-turnover ratio last year.
Kirra Fields looks stronger and quicker than last season, but her shot selection still needs improvement. She added 14 points and five boards while playing less than 30 minutes. Kelli Hayes was strong off the bench, playing tough defense and contributing 6 points on 3-6 shooting.
While the guard play was good, the play from the forwards left something to be desired. Monique Billings and Lajahna Drummer are probably still best described as athletic but raw. Billings was fantastic on the boards to lead the Bruins with 14 rebounds, but her offensive game is definitely a work in progress. Drummer never really got untracked against St. John's, but she too needs work on the offensive end. Senior Kacy Swain is certainly more polished on offense, but lacks the athleticism of Billings and Drummer. Swain's numbers against St. John's were solid: 10 points and 8 boards.
Both of UCLA's freshman made their collegiate debuts last week. Guard Kennedy Burke was really impressive in her 15 minutes. She has a nice stroke from the perimeter and she played tenacious defense, collecting 3 steals and 5 rebounds in just 15 minutes. Forward Ashley Hearn didn't show as much in her 10 minutes, but after her impressive performance in the Bruins' exhibition game, she should continue to get opportunities to contribute.
Tonight's opponent--James Madison--is another top-40 opponent with plenty of postseason experience. This is the third consecutive season in which the Bruins have faced the Dukes. Last year's game had an unfortunate end for UCLA. Leading in the final minute, the Bruins failed to take care of the ball and let James Madison tie the game at the end of regulation. UCLA then failed to execute on multiple opportunities in the final minute of overtime, eventually losing 91-87.
JMU (2-0) has enjoyed a strong start to their 2015-16 campaign with big wins over Longwood (88-30) and Morgan State (92-31). The Dukes' most dangerous player is redshirt senior Jazmon Gwathmey, the 2015 CAA Preseason Player of the Year. She caused UCLA a lot of problems in last year's game. However, probably the key player for JMU tonight is senior guard Angela Mickens, a preseason All-CAA First Team selection. She's tough at both ends of the court, and if she's successful in slowing down Jordin Canada, it will be a long night for the Bruins.
Tonight's game will tell us a lot about the potential of Coach Close's team. With a tough game on Sunday against #2 South Carolina, there's no time for the Bruins to take a breather.