It’s a year of youth for UCLA women’s volleyball.
After losing six seniors, including All-American libero Taylor Formico and All-Pacific South Region middle blocker Jennie Frager, the No. 12 Bruins (11-4, 4-2 Pac-12) have had to rely on a relatively new roster.
And this lineup has not disappointed.
Freshmen opposite Mac May and outside hitter Jenny Mosser are ranked second and third in kills for the Bruins with 161 and 149 on the season, respectively. Sophomore middle blocker Madeleine Gates also leads UCLA in blocks with 64 this season.
In UCLA’s recent victory over Arizona State, those three led the team in blocks and kills.
“We’re definitely young in a lot of places,” said coach Michael Sealy. “When Mac is hot, we’ve got to use her more often. Jenny had a lot of out of system swings. But being the outside hitter in that position, you’ve got a lot of garbage you’ve got to deal with, so I thought she did a good job.”
Mosser finished with double-digit kills in seven of the last eight matches, making an early impact from the outside.
The rookie said she did not expect to be playing all the way around as much as she has thus far.
“As a freshman, you never know what’s going to happen,” Mosser said. “It’s nice knowing that I have so much support so I can just go out and do what I need to do for the team.”
May made herself known early, recording 18 and 17 kills in two of the first matches. She also has 15 service aces thus far, leading UCLA on the season.
Setter Sarah Sponcil may be a senior, but she is new to the lineup right alongside the freshmen after transferring from Loyola Marymount University. Her average of 11.27 assists per set ranks her No. 21 in the NCAA.
“Everyone’s a new face for me but I don’t look at them as young players because they’re very experienced,” Sponcil said. “They know how to handle the ball in certain situations and recycle balls when it’s not a perfect set and that’s what we need.”
UCLA has won its last three games in a row, but will face its biggest challenge of the season against No. 2 Stanford on Friday. The Cardinal also brings young talent such as sophomore outside hitter/setter Kathryn Plummer, 2016′s American Volleyball Coaches Association Freshman of the Year.