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Bruin Bites: Women's Water Polo and Men's Volleyball Come Up Big

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UCLA's highly ranked women's teams were in action this weekend, as was Men's Volleyball. A HUGE win in water polo and an upset win in Men's Volleyball highlight a successful three days.

Vincent Laforet/Getty Images

----Women's Water Polo faced a familiar foe in the championship match of the UCI Invitational, the defending national champion Stanford Cardinal. And this time the Bruins turned the tables, winning the match 7-6. These two teams are clearly the best in the country. But just like the Bruins ruled when Adam Krikorian was coach (seven national titles in nine seasons, including some before Guerrero arrived and some after for Guerrero's resume), the torch had been passed to Stanford (three national titles in the last four seasons). But it looks like the Bruins want the crown back.

Before the UCI Invitational title match, UCLA demonstrated why they are clearly one of the top two teams in the country. First up was #18 Loyola Marymount. The Bruins won 12-3. I would love to give more details. But the match was played at 8 am Saturday morning in Irvine, and since Irvine is so far away from Los Angeles, it is understandable that 30 hours later, there would be no recap on the UCLA website. Wait !! Loyola Marymount is a D-1 school. They must have a sports information department. Let's look at their website-  Bingo !! Junior attacker Charlotte Pratt, freshman attacker Grace Reego, junior attacker Rachel Fattal, and freshman attacker Devin Grab led the Bruins with two goals each.

In the second match of the day, UCLA beat 7th ranked Hawaii 10-4. Once again, the pool could be drained before we would get any details from the UCLA website. So we turn once again to our opponent. Thanks to Hawaii's website, we can find out how the Bruins won. Showing the balance on this squad, sophomore attacker Ashley Zwimer and senior attacker Emily Donohoe led the Bruins with two goals each. That is six different Bruins sharing the scoring honors in the two matches.

Yesterday morning, UCLA took on #3 Southern Cal, and again came out on top, this time by the much closer score of 5-3. The Bruins had a 1-0 lead after the first period, 2-1 after two periods, 4-2 after three periods, and each team scored once in the 4th period for the final score of 5-3. This was the first meeting of the year against Southern Cal, so it is nice to throw down an early marker.

And finally, last but certainly not least, the championship match. UCLA trailed after one period 2-1. The Bruins scored the only goal of the second period, to make the score 2-2 at halftime (notice how much lower the score is when you have two top quality teams playing great defense). UCLA then took the lead 4-3 after three periods. But Stanford battled back to tie the score at 5-5, and send the match to overtime. In the first overtime, each team scored, so the match was knotted 6-6 going to the second overtime. And the Bruins scored the decisive goal, to win the match 7-6. Charlotte Pratt led the way for UCLA with three goals, junior defender Alys Williams added two goals, and sophomore Mackenzie Barr and junior attacker Kodi Hill added a goal each (h/t to labruin for the scoring details). Senior Sami Hill came up big in goal. Great, great win. Let's remember this when we meet again down the road.

Conference play starts next weekend, as UCLA travels to San Jose to face SJS on Sunday.

---Women's Tennis traveled to the Bay Area for two nonconference matches. Once again, the Bruins were short-handed as #1 Robin Anderson was a late scratch. And All-american sophomore Jennifer Brady has not been able to play since January 25 due to a stress fracutre. The Bruins were able to prevail against unranked St. Mary's on Friday, but the injuries clearly were factors against #5 UC Berkeley on Saturday.

Against St. Mary's, UCLA took the doubles point with 8-6 wins at #1 and #3. Freshman Terri Fleming won her match at #5 singles in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3. That put the Bruins up 2-0. We then had every other match go three sets. The final score was therefore somewhat deceptive in terms of margin of victory. This is what happens when your #1 singles player can't go, and everybody moves up a notch.

Kaitlin Ray had a seven match unbeaten streak come to an end, as she was defeated at #3 singles. Catherine Harrison picked up the Bruins with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 win at #4 singles to move UCLA back up to a 2 point margin, 3-1. Chanelle Van Nguyen won the match with a 7-5, 2-6,6 -3 victory at #1 singles to put UCLA up 4-1. The #2 singles and #6 singles matches were completed, with Kyle McPhillips winning at #2 singles in a third set tiebreaker, and Kristin Riley winning her match at #6 singles.

On Saturday, UCLA took on Berkeley, and unfortunately came up short 4-3. UCLA started out strong with a win in the doubles point, as the Bruins won at #2 and #3 doubles. But Kaitlin Ray's rough weekend continued, as she lost in straight sets at #4 singles to even the match at 1-1. Catherine Harrison then gave the Bruins a big boost with an upset win 7-5, 6-3 at #3 singles. That put the Bruins up 2-1. But Berkeley won the next three matches, all in 3 sets, to take the win. Losing in three sets when playing up a notch due to injury shows moxie, but unfortunately, that doesn't show up in the final totals. With Berkeley ahead 4-2, the #6 singles was played out, and UCLA's Kristin Wiley came out ahead 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

The Bruins travel to Pepperdine on Friday for the only match this week. Hopefully, the Bruins can come back strong for conference play, which starts March 13.

As one final note on Women's Tennis, here is a quote from Coach Sampras Webster (who by the way was here before Guerrero arrived) after beating TCU last week, from the Daily Bruin-

"Don’t be satisfied," Sampras Webster said. "Win or lose, come off the court thinking about improvement."

And here is a quote from Steve Alford (who by the way was hired by Guerrero), after losing to Arizona-

I really liked how our guys fought tonight. I thought that we played well and that we got better.

Sampras Webster has the #4 ranked team in the country. Steve Alford's team received 3 votes in the coach's poll in week 6 (you needed 676 to be #4 that week), and it has been all downhill from there. I am not sure these quotes and these rankings are totally unrelated.

----Women's Golf traveled to New Orleans for a three day tourney, which started yesterday. Without Alison Lee, who turned pro after the fall season, the Bruins have a big gap to fill. Sunday, the Bruins shot +4. That puts UCLA in 3rd place out of 15 teams, 8 shots off the pace set by leader LSU.

After winning the Palos Verdes tournament two weeks ago, Bronte Law continued her hot hand, recording three birdies and two bogies, to lead the Bruins at -1. Aliea Clark had an excellent round in her first action of the spring season, recording a +1 (2 birdies, 3 bogies, including back-to-back at #17 and #18). Erynne Lee and Erin Choi completed the scoring for UCLA at +2 each. Choi's round was fairly eventful, as she had four birdies and six bogies. But she had nothing on Lee when it came to adventure. Lee's round went par, par, par, par, par (ho hum, just like me- I wish), birdie, double bogey 6, bogey to complete the front nine, bogey (yikes), par, par, par, birdie, bogey, bogey, eagle 2 (!! on 342 yard par 4), birdie, bogey. So just another routine eagle, 3 birdie, 5 bogey, double bogey round.

The tournament continues today and tomorrow. The Bruins next compete in a two day tournament next Monday and Tuesday in Tarzana.

---- And last, but not least, hats off to the UCLA Men's Volleyball team. This has not been the best of seasons. The Bruins came into last night's OPUG match against #3 Southern Cal with a losing record in conference play. But last night UCLA recorded its biggest win of the season, defeating the Trogans in four sets, 25-15, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22. Freshman outside hitter Jake Arnitz with 16 kills and freshman opposite Christian Hessenauer with 12 kills led the Bruin attack. Growing up right before our eyes- how sweet it is. Great win. Let's hope that we can build on this momentum the rest of the way.

That's it for this edition of Bruin Bites.  Fantastic showing by Women's Water Polo, and a solid win in Men's Volleyball. And get well soon, Women's Tennis.

Go Bruins !!