Women’s Volleyball

Stanford
Tonight, 7 p.m.
Palo Alto
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California
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Berkeley
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No. 10 UCLA tries to extend its four-match winning streak against No. 3 Stanford and No. 2 California, the top two teams in the Pac-10.

Taking down some of the highest-ranked teams in the country seems to be a recurring trend for the UCLA women’s volleyball team.

The Bruins can now add Washington to their growing list of vanquished, high-profile opponents after an upset win over the then-No. 7 Huskies last week. The win was a vindication for the Bruins, especially the seniors, who have not beaten Washington since the 2006 season.

“(The win against Washington) was huge,” senior outside hitter Dicey McGraw said. “My goal all season, all my career, has been to beat Washington because I’ve never beat them, and senior year at home ““ it’s pretty exciting.”

Their win against Washington State two days later marked their fourth-straight victory, and the No. 10 Bruins (17-5, 7-4 Pac-10) are riding high as they head north to compete against two more formidable foes in rematches against No. 2 Cal (20-1, 10-1) and No. 3 Stanford (18-2, 9-2). The bad news for the Bruins is that the Golden Bears and Cardinal, teams they faced in early October, will have a completely different look this time around.

“(Cal) is way better now than they were before,” coach Mike Sealy said. “I thought we were very improved, but they are hands-down as improved or more improved than we were from last time.”

Cal boasts a fast-paced offense that is second in the Pac-10 in both kills, averaging 14.58 per set, and hitting percentage, hitting 0.316 per set. The Bears’ defense is also strong and will force UCLA to get creative if it is to earn any points against the conference leader in opponent hitting percentage (0.151).

“(Cal) is ranked really high and they’re getting a lot better. Their offense is getting a lot better,” sophomore outside hitter Bojana Todorovic said, “But at the same time, so are we, so I think it’s going to be a great match no matter what.”

The last time UCLA faced Stanford, the match had a David vs. Goliath-type of feel to it. Stanford was the No. 1 team in the country and had yet to be beaten, but UCLA showed up with an intensity that the Cardinal couldn’t match and the Bruins notched their first upset victory of the season.

The win jump-started the Bruins’ Pac-10 run, and the team went on to win five of its next six matches.

Since its October loss, Stanford has gone under a drastic change in its game plan. Sealy stressed how the Cardinal’s new formation, which consists of two setters setting the ball to the outside and opposite hitting positions, will make it look “brand new” to the visiting Bruins.

The Bruin offense is currently firing on all cylinders and has been for the better part of a month. Contributions from all across the net are coming from players such as sophomore opposite Rachael Kidder and freshman outside hitter Kelly Reeves.

This variety of offensive weapons, and the big win against Stanford in October, has the revamped Bruin team sounding like it isn’t done adding to its list of underdog victories just yet.

“The win against Stanford at home definitely gives us confidence. … We know we can beat them, and if we just play our game, we can do it again,” McGraw said.