By Eric Branch
Daily Bruin Staff
Kara Milling’s coming-out party took place Saturday night in Pauley Pavilion.
Milling, the newest freshman phenom on the UCLA women’s volleyball team, spent the night repeatedly introducing herself to the Washington State Cougars, slamming down a career-high and game-best 19 kills in No. 3 UCLA’s 15-4, 13-15, 15-2, 15-11, handling of No. 20 WSU.
“Kara is really coming along very nicely,” UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski said. “I switched her to the left side to get her some more hitting opportunities and she was obviously ready.”
Milling, a 6-foot-1-inch outside hitter from Poway High School, wasted no time getting comfortable in her new position, throwing down five kills as the Bruins took the first game in a mere 14 minutes.
“I feel more comfortable and less in awe than I did before,” Milling said. “Tonight was a lot of fun.”
Milling was not the only freshman in the Bruin starting lineup on Saturday. Freshman setter Kim Coleman made her first home start for UCLA. Coleman dished out 44 assists and contributed 11 digs.
“It was exciting but I was really nervous out there,” Coleman said. “I had a hard time getting into a rhythm.”
The Cougars briefly found their rhythm in the second game, assisted in part by eight Bruin hitting errors.
“We seem to be letting up after starting off quickly,” Banachowski said. “We need to learn how to remain focused throughout a match.”
The Bruin’s lapse in concentration proved only temporary as they blistered the Cougars in the third game with a whopping .580 team hitting percentage. Senior outside hitter Annett Buckner (17 kills, 21 digs) contributed four kills and two solo blocks in the game.
The women looked to be headed for a repeat of the previous night’s five-game marathon with Washington as they trailed 11-10 in the fourth. But the Bruins went on a four-point run on Buckner’s serve, highlighted by senior middle blocker Alyson Randick’s two block assists and a kill off the Cougar block.
After an exchange of sideouts, sophomore middle blocker Kim Krull nailed down the victory, taking Coleman’s quick set off the right-side block and out of play.