WASHINGTON STATE 0
There was nothing haunting the UCLA women’s volleyball team this Halloween weekend, as the Bruins treated themselves to a couple of sweet victories against Washington and Washington State.
No. 11 UCLA (17-5, 7-4 Pac-10) had to survive a few scares from No. 7 Washington (17-5, 6-5) to pull off the upset, winning 23-25, 30-28, 13-25, 25-22, 15-12 on Friday at Pauley Pavilion.
The Bruins and Huskies traded blows early on before a controversial call gave the Huskies the first set.
With Washington up 24-23, a Washington kill attempt was initially called out of bounds, but a touch call reversed the point and gave Washington the set.
“There was a lot of iffy calls that whole match,” junior libero Lainey Gera said. “You can’t let it affect you. You’ve just got to move on to the next play.”
Instead of mulling over the call, UCLA came out strong to win a second set that required 30 points for the Bruins to get the two-point lead necessary to win the set.
A successful second set was followed by a ghastly third. Washington led from the start and won by 12 points as UCLA came no closer than five points behind.
Facing defeat by the Huskies for the ninth consecutive time, the Bruins came back to life and won the final two sets, culminating in a fifth set where the Bruins kept the lead and never relinquished it, claiming their first victory over Washington since 2006.
“I think it was the sickest game of my life,” freshman outside hitter Mariana Aquino said. “I’m having the best moments here at UCLA. … We were fighting the entire game, so the energy was really good inside the court.”
Coach Mike Sealy noticed the increased resiliency against a Washington team that dominated UCLA earlier this season.
“We battled against a team that absolutely handed us our lunch four weeks ago,” Sealy said of Washington. “We did a good job game plan-wise; we stuck to what we wanted to do.”
The Bruins had less trouble with Washington State (6-15, 0-11), sweeping the Cougars on Sunday 25-10, 25-12, 25-14. The one-sided match saw four lead changes in the first set, but none thereafter as the Bruins led the rest of the way.
The Cougars committed 19 errors and only hit 19 kills. The Bruins feasted on the miscues and developed double-digit leads in each set.
“I think we just came out crisp and held it throughout the whole match,” assistant coach Dan Conners said. “We were focused. We really wanted to finish the weekend strong.”
Though the Cougars have not played well, the Bruins know the volatility of the Pac-10.
“We definitely didn’t overlook (Washington State) at all because we knew they were going to be tough,” sophomore opposite Rachael Kidder said. “We just came out and worked as hard as we could.”
Kidder shined with match-high kill totals of 14 and 24 against the Cougars and Huskies, respectively. The entire team has shown a spike of intensity during the recent winning streak.
“I think the girls are getting tougher,” Sealy said. “And the coaching staff does a good job of kind of pouncing on them when it looks like they’re showing signs of weakness.
“We don’t care about mistakes, we care about the reactions after the mistakes.”