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Sunday Olympic Sports - UCLA Women's Soccer & Volleyball

#12 UCLA Women's Soccer hosts the Wisconsin Badgers this afternoon at Drake Stadium while #20 UCLA Women's Volleyball will battle the Loyola Marymount Lions at the John Wooden Center.


Women's Soccer

Opponent: #13 Wisconsin (2-1-0)

When: 4:00 PM PDT, Sunday, August 30, 2015

Where: Drake Stadium, Los Angeles, CA

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After securing their first win of the season against the San Diego Toreros last Sunday, #12 UCLA (1-1-0) faces a much tougher opponent today when it takes on the 13th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers at Drake Stadium.

Jenkins Nets in Overtime to Lead UCLA to Its First Win

it took over 190 minutes, but the #12 Bruins (1-1-0) scored their first goal of the season last Sunday, and in doing so, wrapped up their first win of the season. After dominating the Toreros in regulation but failing to find the back of the net, junior Darian Jenkins scored a golden goal three minutes into the second overtime period. It was the ninth game-winning goal of Jenkins career. Redshirt sophomore Zoey Goralski and freshman Hallie Mace were credited with assists.

In case you missed it, here's Jenkins' breakthrough goal:

The UCLA defense was superb once again, allowing just five shots, none of which were on target. Meanwhile, the Bruins registered 20 shots with eight on goal.

Although the Bruins dominated play in both halves and in overtime, UCLA's finishing has to improve. The Bruins shooting percentage (goals/shots) in 2015 is .033, which is very poor compared to the shooting percentage of last year's team (.151). However, the defense has been solid so far, and the UCLA attack is bound to improve as a new set of midfielders begin to click with the Bruins' experienced forwards.

Scouting the Badgers

WIsconsin (2-1-0) is the 13th-ranked team in the country, but the Badgers' performances on the opening weekend of the season were less than impressive. Although Wisconsin won both games by a 2-1 margin, it needed overtime to put away a pair of unranked opponents (Western Michigan & North Dakota State).

The Badgers suffered a tough 2-0 loss on Friday against #10 Pepperdine in the first game of their west coast road trip. Two goals by Pepperdine midway through the first half proved to be too much of a deficit for Wisconsin to overcome even though the Badgers put plenty of shots on goal.

Wisconsin has two highly talented players that the Bruins will have to keep an eye on. Junior midfielder Rose Lavelle earned second-team All-America honors in 2014 and has been named to the 2015 MAC Hermann Trophy watch list. Lavelle is ranked as the #2 player in women's college soccer in 2015 by Top Drawer Soccer.

Senior midfielder Kinley McNicoll is the Badgers' top returning scorer; she tallied nine goals and nine assists in 2014 and was a First Team Big-10 selection. Top Drawer Soccer ranks McNicoll as the 18th best player in the nation in 2015.

Although Wisconsin lost fewer 2014 starters than the Bruins, the Badgers have five new faces in the starting XI, including a new goalkeeper. Defensively, Wisconsin has been porous, which is good news for UCLA's struggling attack.

What to Expect

With both teams trying to quickly rebuild after suffering substantial losses from their 2014 starting XIs, there are bound to be inconsistent performances from both teams early in the season. The 2015 Bruins have had trouble scoring, and the 2015 Badgers have had trouble keeping the ball out of the back of their own net. With the advantage of playing at home, I have to give the edge to the Bruins today.

With Wisconsin's strength in midfield, the Bruins have to be strong in possession today. I expect the Badgers to squeeze the Bruins in midfield to create turnovers and counterattack opportunities. However, if the Bruins can keep their composure, they can pick up an important win today.


Women's Volleyball

Opponent: Loyola Marymount (0-1)

When: 5:00 PM PDT, Sunday, August 30, 2015

Where: Collins Court, John Wooden Center, Los Angeles, CA


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UCLA Women's Volleyball opened the 2015 campaign yesterday with a comfortable win over the Virginia Cavaliers. Today the Bruins will battle Loyola Marymount with a chance to avenge an embarrassing early season loss to the Lions in 2014.

UCLA Sweeps Virginia In Season Opener

The #20 Bruins (1-0) made quick work of the Cavaliers yesterday evening with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-16) sweep of the visitors. The biggest surprise of the match, I suppose, was Coach Sealy's choice of Ryan Chandler as the Bruins' starting setter. In fact, given that Coach Sealy surrounded Chandler with the Bruins' most experienced players--the likely starters for the 2015 season--it appears that Chandler is poised to be UCLA's starting setter in 2015.

The strength of UCLA's attack against the Cavaliers came through the middle. Both Claire Felix (.533) and Jennie Frager (.467) had terrific hitting percentages, and Chandler, for the most part, made good decisions. Reily Buechler (13 kills) and Jordan Anderson (12 kills) paced the Bruins attack, although Anderson faded a bit in the latter stages of the match. Haley Lawless was selected at the third outside hitter, and unfortunately she failed again to produce a performance that would justify a starting role. I suspect that in the short term, Coach Sealy will continue to give Lawless opportunities to lock down a starting role, but she really needs to start producing better results very, very soon.

Generally speaking, aside from the big loss of Karsta Lowe, the Bruins seem to have picked up pretty much where they left off in 2014. Frager was, as expected, excellent as a replacement for Zoe Nightingale, and Felix seems to get better with each game. Buechler continues to be steady, and Taylor Formico and Rachel Inouye are solid, hardworking defenders. Based on what I saw yesterday, this team is very close to where I thought it would be--a middle of the pack Pac-12 team.

Scouting the Lions

Loyola Marymount (0-1) opened the season on Friday with a 1-3 loss to Virginia. That fact alone probably tells you as much as you need to know about the quality of the 2015 Lions. However, considering the fact that the Bruins were upset by LMU last year, UCLA has to take the game to the Lions if it wants to avoid a repeat of last season's disaster.

LMU relies on two main weapons in attack. Sophomore OH Sarah Sponcil leads the LMU attack. Against the Cavaliers, she notched 13 kills with a .476 hitting percentage. Junior Jamie Lea is dangerous too, though she's more of a volume hitter. Against Virginia, Lea had 19 kills while hitting .245. Senior Amber Mirabello has a good all-around game, and provides leadership and experience.

What to Expect

This is a match that the Bruins should win handily. If UCLA plays to its potential--or for that matter, to 75% of its potential--the Bruins will be 2-0 at the end of the weekend. The worry, though, is that the Bruins will play to the level of their competition, as they did so frequently last season. If they fall into that trap tonight, it will be a bad sign for the 2015 season.

While I'd really like to see Coach Sealy give a start to Izzy Carmona, I suspect that he'll go with the same starting group that featured against Virginia. I'd also like to see Zana Muno get some court time, but again, I think that's unlikely. It seems that Coach Sealy is focused on strengthening the core of the team at the moment, which means that we may not see much from the bench until it's required.