Weekend in preview: Jan. 18
(Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)
This post was updated Jan. 22 at 6:26 p.m.
Women’s water polo
Jack Perez, Daily Bruin staff
The Bruins kick off their season with familiar opponents at a familiar location.
UCLA women’s water polo will open its regular season with five games at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational. Last season, the Bruins went 4-0 at the tournament.
UCLA starts off with a game against CSUN and follows that up with games against UC Irvine, Cal Baptist, Michigan and UC Santa Barbara over the three-day tournament beginning Friday. This weekend will be the first games for each team.
Coach Adam Wright said he is not concerned with his team’s record at the tournament as much as how he wants to see consistency from practices translate to games.
“Success is ‘Are they carrying over the things we’ve been doing from the fall and the last couple of weeks?’” Wright said. “Whether it’ll be defensively, or in transition, or in the front court, if we can’t carry these things over from week in and week out, then we can never arrive to be the team we ultimately want to be.”
UCLA went 5-0 last season against three of the teams they are scheduled to play this weekend. It defeated both Michigan and UCSB twice, and their lone win over UCI came in a double overtime game.
“We know we have a challenging weekend ahead of us against really good teams,” Wright said. “The biggest test is how are we going to react under pressure and is that going to change the things we’ve been working on or not.”
Andreas Papoutsis, Daily Bruin contributor
The Bruins have one more weekend of preparation before season.
UCLA women’s tennis will travel to Las Vegas this weekend to face UNLV in the Freeman Memorial Championships hosted at the Fertitta Tennis Complex.
The Bruins are slowly shaking off the rust from break, and coach Stella Sampras Webster said she wanted her team to play one more weekend of matches before their ITA Kick-Off against Minnesota.
“A lot of them haven’t competed in a couple months,” Sampras Webster said. “So it’s going to be getting back into tournament mode.”
In addition to a nearly two-month break from competition, UCLA will have to warm up for the beginning of season in the face of low temperatures. Despite the weather, many Bruins will still be asked to play multiple matches per day.
“It’s quite cold there,” Sampras Webster said. “They really need to take care of their bodies and make sure they recover well.”
This weekend’s tournament will also feature multiple performances from the team’s freshmen, including nationally ranked Elysia Bolton, Katie LaFrance and Taylor Johnson. Sampras Webster hopes these freshmen can use their matches against UNLV as a building block for the rest of the season.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get to know (Johnson) better and to see her play,” Sampras Webster said. “I think it’s important that (Bolton) understand how long the season is, and she’s going to have to get used to playing when fans are not supportive.”
Track and field
Peter Frederick, Daily Bruin contributor
The rest of the UCLA track and field team is beginning the 2019 campaign after a strong season-opener by the throwing team in which nobody finished lower than fourth.
The team will compete at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Collegiate Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Friday and Saturday. Among the Bruins making their season debuts is redshirt senior sprinter Leon Powell, who redshirted in 2018.
“(I’m looking forward to) competing,” Powell said. “Taking a year off, it was really a difference of being in a competitive mode every week; we also have five to seven new recruits so having a team (to compete with) is really exciting.”
Powell earned the Bruin Leadership Award at last year’s 2018 UCLA scholar-athlete banquet for making a significant impact on the UCLA student-athlete experience despite sitting out last season. Powell also earned All-American Honorable Mention honors in 2017 in the men’s 4×100 meter relay.
Other notable Bruins making their season debuts this weekend are redshirt junior Robert Brandt, who finished eighth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year to earn First-Team All-America honors in the men’s 10K run and senior Lillianna Hebert, who finished fifth in the high jump and 15th in the triple jump at the Pac-12 championship.
Swim and dive
Robert J. Nevarez, Daily Bruin contributor
The Bruins officially launch into Pac-12 competition this weekend.
UCLA swim and dive (7-0) will welcome Oregon State (3-4) to Spieker Aquatics Center on Saturday as its first of five consecutive conference matches before entering the Pac-12 championship.
In their previous two Pac-12 meets, Oregon State suffered losses to Arizona State (2-3) and Arizona (3-2) by scores of 153-96 and 152-103, respectively. The Bruins defeated both schools earlier in the season with marks of 160-140 and 161-139.
While the swim team heads into the weekend riding the momentum of last week’s dual meet victory against UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara, the dive team enters on nearly two weeks of rest, last competing Jan. 7 against Harvard and San Diego.
Dive will additionally take part in the Bruin Diving Invitational, hosting 15 different West Coast schools. Among these teams, UCLA faces familiar Pac-12 foes USC, Utah, California and Stanford – the No. 2 swim and dive squad in the country.
Other participating schools include San Diego State, UNLV, San Diego, Cal Poly, Northern Arizona, Pepperdine, Air Force, Denver, Cal Baptist and San Jose State.
The Bruin Diving Invitational will begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday.