Slightly flushed and beaming, freshman setter Becca Strehlow was still riding an emotional high 15 minutes after UCLA’s win over Washington on Sunday.
The reasons were aplenty.
Not only did the No. 5 Bruins (17-4, 9-3 Pac-12) defeat a top-five ranked team for the first time in five tries, but she was also the late-game catalyst in that victory.
Sophomore setter Megan Moenoa started and played the first two sets, but missed defensive assignments early in the third set prompted coach Michael Sealy to make a change.
While Strehlow started many games to begin the season, she had only started two of the team’s last nine games, including Sunday.
She didn’t allow that to deter her confidence.
“It was just my time to bring energy to the court. Megan did a great job the first two sets, (but) it was time for me to deliver what I had to the team,” Strehlow said.
After she brought her energy and intensity, the Bruins worked back from a seven-point deficit to tie the game in the third set.
In the fourth set, UCLA dug itself into another early hole. Strehlow subbed in again and guided a reeling Bruins team to a come-from-behind set victory for the match win.
But Strehlow didn’t want to take the credit.
“Actually the team kind of brought me up. Of course when you come in, you’re kind of nervous, you’re cold off the bench and to have the team who just definitely picks you up and helps you out, it means the world (to me),” Strehlow said.
Too much Love?
Against Washington, senior outside hitter Tabi Love had a career-high 71 attack attempts, 20 more than her previous career-high of 51.
“In the first set, she probably got 10 or 12 extra swings because of the matchup. She was matched up against a small blocker so we just told our setter to set her every time,” Sealy said.
However, Sealy said later in the match, he wanted more balance from his team.
You’re Kidder-ing me
Senior outside hitter Rachael Kidder, last year’s NCAA tournament MVP, didn’t enter Sunday’s game until the Bruins held a 8-4 lead in the first set.
During the match, Kidder found herself on the bench almost as often as she did on the court.
Her lack of playing time had nothing to do with a “benching” or bad play.
“She’s playing an outside position that (junior libero) Meg Norton runs the back row for. She and Tabi (Love) flipped so it’s the same exact role. It has nothing to do with less playing time. She’s now playing the outside position that is a primary attacker/blocker and doesn’t have as much back row capacity,” Sealy said.
Kidder doesn’t mind the time off the court.
“I don’t care as long as Tabi’s getting the job done. As long as that’s what works best for our team, then it’s fine,” Kidder said.