UCLA women’s volleyball keeps perfect conference record with Stanford defeat
Sophomore outside/opposite hitter Iman Ndiaye and No. 19 UCLA women’s volleyball upset No. 14 Stanford on Sunday. Ndiaye finished the match with nine kills. (Vivian Xu/Daily Bruin senior staff)
|No. 19 UCLA||3|
|No. 14 Stanford||2|
By Tung Lin
Sept. 27, 2021 1:46 p.m.
STANFORD – Iman Ndiaye started and ended the match with a kill.
The sophomore outside/opposite hitter racked up nine kills to help No. 19 UCLA women’s volleyball (9-1, 2-0 Pac-12) defeat No. 14 Stanford (6-3, 1-1) on Sunday at Maples Pavilion.
The Cardinal took the first two sets by a score of 25-18, and the Bruins won the next three sets 25-23, 27-25 and 15-9. There were at least three lead changes in each of the first four sets.
In the first set, UCLA kept up with Stanford up to a tied game at 6-6 before the Cardinal pulled away with a four-point run. Another such run – when the score was at 13-18 – paved the way for a Stanford win.
Ndiaye led the team with four kills and a .667 hitting percentage during the first set. The Cardinal racked up 14 block assists in the frame while the Bruins charted four.
“(I) was using the block and seeing what’s open,” Ndiaye said. “I was trying to swing super fast, trying to get the ball down faster.”
Senior outside/opposite hitter élan McCall – who recorded eight digs across five sets – rotated in the back row for Ndiaye.
Senior defense specialist/libero Zoe Fleck said McCall provided timely digs and saves for the team.
“She brings a level of athleticism that raises everybody else’s level of playing,” Fleck said.
In the second set, UCLA started off with a service error but didn’t fall behind again until after a tie at 10-10. Running a 5-1 rotation similar to the blue and gold, Stanford was able to convert passes into kills or dumps from its setter. Following a 12-7 Cardinal run, the Bruins substituted redshirt senior middle blocker Emily Ryan for the remainder of the set.
“It wasn’t anything like we saw something,” said coach Michael Sealy. “(We) just change the pulse. (We were) out of timeouts, we knew that Emily could just be an offensive threat.”
Despite the substitution, a successful challenge from the Cardinal late in the game brought the score to 24-18, and Stanford took the second set.
Sealy said the match could have ended in a Stanford sweep, but his team continued to fight to avoid that outcome.
“It didn’t matter if it’s going our way or not, we just have to go aggressively play our game,” Sealy said. “We need to break that habit if things aren’t going well for us, we physically don’t compete as hard.”
On the other hand, the Cardinal’s primary libero, Elena Oglivie, took a hit to her face in the second set and was replaced by secondary libero Taylor Beaven.
The Bruins led the fourth set 19-15 and following a timeout, saw the Cardinal pull ahead to a 20-19 lead. The set saw two extra-point ties until a UCLA block and kill gave the team a 27-25 win.
The fifth set started off with a block – a point for UCLA. Tipping started to work for the Bruins, with two tips converted into kills from the outside hitter. An early five-point Bruin run set the score at 8-2.
From 12-6, Stanford gained three straight points, leading to a McCall substitution for Ndiaye as the front row opposite. After achieving their side out, the Bruins returned the sophomore outside/opposite hitter to the match where she scored the final kill to end the set at 15-9.
Ndiaye, who was able to hit from both outside and opposite, said she noticed a difference between Stanford’s blocking presence between the two pins. The Cardinal recorded 41 block assists – more than double that of the Bruins.
“From the outside, the block is a lot bigger, so there’s less room for space,” Ndiaye said.
With the reverse sweep win, UCLA maintained its perfect record in conference play. Sealy said the Bruins were able to come out victorious by winning the mental game.
“(When) things aren’t going well, it shouldn’t affect our ability to fight,” Sealy said.