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With three matches left, No. 10 UCLA faces No. 23 Oregon and Oregon State.
The UCLA women’s volleyball team has come a long way since the beginning of the season, and for coach Mike Sealy, the proof lies in the film of the team’s Nov. 13 win over Arizona.
“We watched video after the Arizona game, and the staff was blown away that we didn’t have as many glaring issues as we normally do in video,” Sealy said. “We were surprised that we had executed as well as we did.”
After a fast start, some big wins and a few hard-fought losses against the country’s top teams, the No. 10 Bruins (19-6, 9-6 Pac-10) are down to their final three matches of the regular season, two of which will come on the road this weekend against Oregon State and Oregon.
UCLA will end its season with a home match against USC.
Today, the Bruins will take on the No. 23 Ducks (18-8, 6-8) after beating them at Pauley Pavilion on Oct. 23.
Oregon lost a five-set match to USC the day before it was swept by UCLA, so Sealy is expecting to see a more fresh team this time around.
“They’re a much better team, more physical than they played here,” Sealy said.
“So we’ve got to be prepared, knowing they’re a much different team than what we saw in the first round.”
The sweep at the hands of UCLA was the second of five consecutive losses for Oregon, but the Ducks have won their past two matches. Senior outside hitter Heather Myers leads the Oregon offense with 3.69 kills per set.
Struggling Oregon State (8-20, 1-13) can’t blame its 3-1 loss to UCLA on Oct. 22 on fatigue, but Sealy said the Beavers are “physical enough to cause problems.”
Oregon State will be entering the match with its own fair share of problems to solve, in the form of a 12-match losing streak which could reach 13 by the time UCLA visits Corvallis, as Oregon State must take on USC two days before.
Freshman outside hitter Meg Norton said the Bruins are looking for another express victory over the Beavers.
“We’re looking to sort of do the same thing as last time,” Norton said. “Just get in, get out, beat them quickly.”
Oregon State is led by senior outside hitter Jill Sawatzky, who is first on the team with 3.85 kills per set.
Just as the 2010 season has been one of transition, with new personnel at important spots on the floor, UCLA’s style has also seen some changes during the year.
Because of their lack of size, the Bruins have primarily been a defensive team this year, relying on digs and hustle points to stay in matches.
Throughout the season, though, players have emerged as offensive threats, adding another dimension to the team.
Junior middle blocker Katie Camp said that her team has not only gotten better with the changes, but closer as well.
“It could have been weird chemistry. I haven’t played with a lot of these girls before, but instead, we took the adversity, and we kind of rolled with it,” Camp said.
“And I feel like we’re peaking at the right time, and I’m really happy to see where we’ve come.”