Today, 7 p.m.
Watch live on uclabruins.com
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Watch live on uclabruins.com
The No. 12 Bruins host two Pac-10 teams this weekend, taking on No. 7 Cal and No. 1 Stanford.
After a trip up north that culminated in a split two-game series, a homestand at Pauley Pavilion could be the spark the UCLA women’s volleyball team needs.
UCLA has spent a lot of time on the road lately. Of the 14 games they’ve played this season, only one has been played in front of their home crowd. But that won’t last for long.
No. 12 UCLA returns home this week to play host to two undefeated powerhouses: No. 7 Cal (14-0, 4-0 Pac 10) today and No. 1 Stanford (13-0, 4-0) Saturday.
So far, with no help from a tough schedule, UCLA has struggled in conference play. After losses to then-No. 6 USC and then-No. 10 Washington, the Bruins are having a hard time establishing themselves in the Pac-10.
Given Cal and Stanford’s talent, the Bruins could be the owners of a 1-4 conference record if things don’t go their way this weekend.
“I don’t think there is a pressure that we have to keep up with a certain record,” junior middle blocker Katie Camp said.
“Obviously, we are going to be disappointed if we don’t steal one of these matches from them. … I think there is more pressure for us to play our game.”
This attempt to play its own game has become the mantra for coach Mike Sealy’s team. Over the course of the season, the Bruins have stressed how they can compete as long as they stay within their game plan.
But the boost that a win against the Cardinal or the Golden Bears would have on the team’s morale cannot be overlooked.
“You always want to knock the top guy off, so that would be amazing. And I think we are very capable of doing that as long as we work to get to that point,” sophomore outside hitter Bojana Todorovic said. “I don’t think any game is given to you; you’ve got to work for it and fight for it.”
When they face the Bears tonight, the Bruins will certainly have to work for it. Cal is one of only two schools ““ Stanford is the other ““ left in the AVCA’s top 25 without a loss.
The Golden Bears boast impressive statistics across the board. They are hitting .334 while holding their opponents to .112.
Things won’t get easier for UCLA on Saturday. The Cardinal lead the Pac-10 in kills, hitting percentage and assists, and are second only to UCLA in digs.
Tonight, the Bruins will have to try and forget about the numbers.
“(Washington) exposed us to the higher level of volleyball that we are going to be playing … that really emphasized, on our team, what we need to fix,” Todorovic said.
The Bruins have been working on increasing overall team speed on offense this week in practice, something they feel will help counter Cal’s quick and aggressive attack.
UCLA’s defense has been its crutch all season, providing something to fall back on when the offense falls out of rhythm. With the work that was put in this week at practice and the attempt to stabilize and polish team play with a potent offense, Todorovic likes the Bruins’ chances.
“I think if we take care of the small things against both teams, then we’ll be fine,” she said. “Even the best teams in the world make mistakes. … Everybody’s got weaknesses, and if you get in their head, you can do anything.”