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Bruin Bites: Ally Carda Edition

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UCLA's softball team completed a second straight undefeated week featuring outstanding performances by Ally Carda. Our women's tennis, sand volleyball and water polo teams extended their winning streaks too; unfortunately our men's teams didn't fare as well.

Softball

If you read Bruin Bites last week--and I hope you did--then you know that Ally Carda had a pretty incredible week, the highlight of which was her third career no-hitter. Carda returned for an encore last week, registering three wins and a save in UCLA's four games. In 20 innings, Carda surrendered only 7 hits and 2 runs while striking out 30. Carda's second week of dominance from the circle earned her a second straight Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week award:

Carda has also been named NFCA National Pitcher of the Week for the second straight week.

When Carda is in top form, the tenth-ranked Bruins are awfully hard to beat. Last Tuesday, the Bruins hosted #13 Baylor, and the Bears found it very tough going against Carda. In fact, Carda carried a no-hitter into the seventh. At that point the Bruins held a 2-0 lead courtesy of a sixth inning two-run homer by freshmen Maddy Jelenicki. But the Bears finally scratched out a hit against Carda to lead off the seventh, and two batters later, Baylor had tied the score with a home run.

The Bruins struck back in the bottom half. Gracie Goulder drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a ground out by Allexis Bennett. That brought Carda to the plate; she smashed a hit up the middle to score Goulder, giving the Bruins a 3-2 win. Carda struck out 14 in the victory to tie her career high.

Carda was back on Friday for the opening game of a weekend series against Utah. Once again she limited the opposition to a pair of hits, but this time she pitched a complete game shutout with 7 Ks. Gracie Goulder drove in the only run of the game in the second when her double to left scored Mysha Sataraka from first. The 1-0 victory for the Bruins extended their win streak to 11.

On Saturday, the Bruins started freshman Selina Ta'amilo. Although she surrendered two unearned runs in the first, she shut down the Utes for the next four innings and held them to two hits. In the bottom of the fifth, the Bruins finally scored, pushing three across the plate on a leadoff homer by Goulder, a single by Bennett, a double by Carda to score Bennett, and a bunt single by Delaney Spaulding. Carda scored the third run of the inning while Spaulding was caught in a rundown between first and second.

With the Bruins clinging to a one-run lead, Carda replaced Ta'amilo in the circle. Carda held the Utes hitless for the final two frames, while Brittany Moeai homered to give the Bruins a 4-2 win. Selina Ta'amilo improved to 5-1 for the season.

Carda was back in the circle for the last game of the weekend. UCLA jumped out to an early lead with 3 in the first, 2 in the third and another in the fourth to give Carda a six run lead to protect. Carda didn't disappoint, blanking the Utes on two hits through four innings while striking out 7. At that point, freshman Johanna Grauer replaced Carda, and she closed out the game comfortably, holding the Utes to one hit over three shutout innings for a 6-0 final score.

Three Bruins had a multi-hit game: Carda, Kylee Perez, and Stephany LaRosa. LaRosa and Gabrielle Maurice homered for the Bruins. With the series sweep, UCLA extended its winning streak to 13 games and improved to 27-5 for the season.

The Bruins travel to Washington this weekend for a three-game set against the #17 Huskies.

Women's Tennis

After moving up 10 spots in the national rankings last week, our second-ranked women's tennis team was in Pullman on Friday to open the Pac-12 season against Washington State. UCLA lived up to its high ranking with a 7-0 demolition of the Cougars in which the Bruins didn't drop a set.

The Bruins claimed the doubles point with victories on courts 1 and 2. The doubles teams of Kyle McPhillips & Catherine Harrison and Robin Anderson & Chanelle Van Nguyen each won 8-3.

It was straightforward for the Bruins in singles too. Robin Anderson won on court 1, losing just 3 games in 2 sets. Chanelle Van Nguyen won on court 2, losing only 5 games in 2 sets. Catherine Harrison won on court 3, dropping just 3 games over 2 sets. You get the idea... the Cougars never threatened in any of the matches.

UCLA is now 11-2 on the season. Next up for the Bruins is #9 Cal on Friday and #12 Stanford on Saturday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.

Women's Basketball

Yesterday the UCLA women's basketball program accepted an invitation to compete in the WNIT. This follows a sixth-place conference finish with an 8-10 record in the Pac-12, a 13-18 record overall, and a second round exit from the Pac-12 tournamentI've shared my thoughts elsewhere about UCLA's participation in the WNIT. On Thursday I'll preview their first round game against Cal State Bakersfield at Pauley Pavilion. Let's hope that Coach Close and the Bruins can find a way to end an otherwise disappointing season on a high note.

Sand Volleyball

Last Wednesday, our ninth-ranked sand volleyball team battled the sixth-ranked Loyola Marymount Lions and came away with a convincing 4-1 victory. As happened last week, the Bruins only loss came from our #1 doubles pair of Ivey Schmitt and Kamila Tan. Although they lost their matchup 22-20, 16-21, 9-15, Schmitt & Tan showed improvement from their opening week performance.

On court 2, Elise Zappia and Madie Smith again won in straight sets (23-21, 22-20), while on court 3, Julie Consani and Laurel Weaver needed three sets (21-18, 19-21, 15-12) to claim the point. On court 4, Karly Drolson and Rachel Inouye eased to an efficient straight sets win (21-19, 21-15). Court 5 saw the return of Zoe Nightingale to sand volleyball after missing the opener with an injury; Nightingale paired with Lexi Jasper-Baylin to win a tight, straight sets victory (24-22, 21-17). With the upset of LMU, the Bruins improve to 2-0 on the season.

The Bruins will be in action again this weekend in Waikiki at the Dad Center Founder's Cup Championships.

Mini-Bites

Men's Volleyball

On Friday night, our tenth-ranked men's volleyball team traveled to Santa Barbara to take on the ninth-ranked Gauchos. Unfortunately the Bruins returned home on the wrong end of a four set match. UCSB outclassed the Bruins in the opening set, 25-14, which saw the Bruins finish with as many attacking errors as kills. UCLA bounced back to take the second set, 25-22, but couldn't carry any momentum through into the third set, losing 16-25. At that point, the fourth set almost felt like a formality; the Gauchos took the final set 25-20, and the match, 3-1.

Freshman opposite Christian Hessenauer led the UCLA attack with 17 kills. Freshman J.T. Hatch added 13 kills and 10 digs, and sophomore Jackson Bantle collected 10 digs as well. Once again the Bruins made far too many errors, and in particular, committed a whopping 33 attack error, which resulted in an anemic 0.134 hiting percentage for the match. With the loss, Coach Speraw's team slumped to 6-8 in the MPSF and 10-8 overall, putting the Bruins in a tie with Stanford for eighth place.

The Bruins are off this week, but resume play on the 26th with a match against. Cal Baptist followed by a match two days later against Southern Cal.

Women's Water Polo

Another week, another lopsided victory for UCLA's women's water polo team. Our top-ranked Bruins continue to dominate opponents, this week crushing Cal State Bakersfield 17-3 at Spieker Aquatics Center. Junior Kodi Hill recorded a hat trick for the second straight week, Mackenzie Barr collected her second straight brace, and four other Bruins (Danielle Ferraro, Emily Donohoe, Devin Grab, and Ashley Zwirner) netted a pair of goals. Goalkeeper Sami Hill collected six saves as UCLA improved to 3-0 in the MPSF and 17-1 overall. The Bruins have a dozen days off before traveling to Honolulu to play games against San Diego State and Hawai'i.

Update: Freshman Devin Grab has been named MPSF Newcomer of the Week.

Men's Tennis

A few days after climbing two spots in the national rankings, our #14 men's tennis team was defeated 4-1 by the guys across town. The #5 Trojans picked up the doubles point with wins on courts 1 and 3, though our doubles team of Karue Sell and Joseph Di Giulio managed to win their match on court 2.

The outcome in singles wasn't much better. Although Dennis Mkrtchian netted a straight sets victory (6-4, 6-3) on court 2, the Bruins lost matches in straight sets on courts 4, 5 and 6 to hand Southern Cal a 4-1 win. With the loss, the Bruins dropped to 8-6 on the season. The Bruins don't return to the court until Monday when they host UNLV.

Those are your Bruins Bites for the week. Once again, the spotlight will be on our men's basketball team this week as they try to advance in the NCAA tournament, but there are other important contests this week that deserve our attention. Let's do our best to show our student-athletes the support they deserve.

Go BRUINS!