The Bruins have won six sets in a row for the first time this season.
After sweeping Oregon State and No. 25 Arizona State, No. 20 UCLA women’s volleyball (9-5, 4-3 Pac-12) will take on No. 23 Arizona (14-4, 3-3) on Friday night at Pauley Pavilion to finish off its four-game homestand.
“All I want to see is consistency,” said coach Michael Sealy. “I think that will be the challenge. It’s probably time to get slapped around a bit and see how we recover.”
Sealy played only eight players in the Bruins’ most recent matchups against the Beavers and Sun Devils. In every match prior to those two, at least nine players received playing time.
UCLA surpassed its season averages against Arizona State in kills per set, blocks per set and service aces per set – notching 14.67 kills per set, 2.67 blocks per set and 2.33 aces per set. On the season, the team is averaging 12.48 kills per set, 2.37 blocks per set and 1.20 aces per set.
“We just had too many X-factors in the past,” Sealy said. “We were not setting up in system great or our hitters were off. I’d attribute our last two wins to a collective effort. It’s finally coming together for everybody.”
Sophomore outside hitter Mac May credited quality of touch for the improved offense.
“Our ball control will continue to play a huge part throughout the entire season,” May said. “We just need to play steady and take care of our assignments.”
The Bruins’ most threatening assignment Friday will be Wildcats’ outside hitter Kendra Dahlke, who is leading the Pac-12 in kills per set at 5.17 and overall kills at 326. She has registered 52 more kills than anyone else in the Pac-12.
Wildcats’ setter Julia Patterson is the third-most prolific setter in the conference, recording 11.35 assists per set.
“Everyone in the Pac-12 is really talented, but especially Arizona have shown how strong they are this year,” said junior middle blocker Madeleine Gates. “We really need to focus on taking away their best shots.”
Arizona ranks third in the conference in kills per set at 14.50 and fifth in hitting percentage at .253, while UCLA is second to last in kills per set and third to last in hitting percentage at .214.
The Wildcats are coming off back-to-back conference losses at home against the No. 18 Washington Huskies and the No. 21 Washington State Cougars – failing to capitalize on a two-set lead in their most recent match against Washington State.
Both UCLA and Arizona swept Arizona State and Oregon State and lost to No. 2 Stanford this season. The Bruins are tied for sixth in the conference while the Wildcats are eighth.
UCLA is 56-25 all-time and 30-10 at home against Arizona. Last year, the Bruins came out victorious in both games against the Wildcats.