The UCLA women’s volleyball team has made its return to the top 10 for the first time since the beginning of conference play.
The No. 9 Bruins (18-4, 9-3 Pac-12), also hold a share of the lead in the Pac-12 standing with No. 8 Washington and will face unranked Arizona (15-10, 7-6) and Arizona State (9-15, 2-10) on the road this weekend.
The Bruins have won six straight games, including three against ranked opponents, but the last team they lost to was the Wildcats. The Bruins hit only .149 in the final three sets on their way to blowing a 2-0 lead.
This time around, UCLA will be looking to avoid its first season sweep by Arizona since 2011.
“U of A will be a nice battle since we did go to five with them and it was a tough loss,” said redshirt junior setter Ryann Chandler. “They’re really scrappy – their defense is amazing – so I think that game will be a really big game for us.”
In Arizona’s past three matches, they have beaten No. 20 Oregon and No. 25 USC, but fallen against Oregon State, the bottom-ranked team in the Pac-12.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, share the bottom spot in the Pac-12 with the Beavers. The Sun Devils haven’t beaten a ranked team since before the beginning of conference play.
When the UCLA last faced Arizona State, the Bruins held the Sun Devils at a .073 hitting percentage in a three-set sweep.
Since this last match, however, Arizona State has switched from a 6-2 to a 5-1, so either rotation could appear Saturday.
“We’re prepared for either one that we face. There’s different things we can do scheming-wise,” said coach Michael Sealy. “We definitely want a game plan in place for whichever one shows up.”
The second half of Pac-12 play is in full swing, and senior middle blocker Claire Felix said that the most important thing for this team is to focus on the matches ahead.
“There’s a lot of things happening in polls,” Felix said. “The biggest and best thing we can do is distance ourselves from that. We have to have the same mentality no matter what our ranking is, or no matter where we fall.”