CSUN Pleased With Effort in 3-Game Loss to Storied UCLA
Later this week, the UCLA women’s volleyball team will play host to Oregon State and Oregon in matches dubbed “Library Nights,” promotional events in which anyone bearing a library card gets in free.
The Bruins, the top-ranked Division I team, tuned up for their literary-inspired special events by traveling to Cal State Northridge on Wednesday night.
UCLA’s 15-13, 15-9, 15-3 sweep of the Lady Matadors was a quick study in the differences between the powerful Bruins and Northridge, the defending Division II national champion.
However, Northridge Coach Walt Ker used the match to get a reading on his team. He came away with a good review.
“I’m really pleased because we played very aggressively,” Ker said. “That was a concern of mine because my team was aware of how well UCLA had been playing against the best Division I teams in the country.”
Indeed, UCLA (7-0) came into the match having already defeated previously top-ranked Hawaii, the defending national champion, as well as having shut out third-ranked Stanford, the NCAA runner-up.
Against Northridge, however, the Bruins had trouble getting untracked. Senior setter Ann Boyer, the backbone of the UCLA attack, was on the bench because of a back injury sustained during practice.
Sophomore Traci Broadway started in Boyer’s place and it was obvious that the timing of the normally smooth Bruin attack was out of sync.
“We weren’t always working together at the beginning,” said outside hitter Samantha Shaver, who finished with a match-high 16 kills. “We haven’t had that much time to work with Traci and it showed. Once we got together, we started playing well.”
Northridge (6-4) also played well for most of the match but handicapped itself with 11 service errors. Afterward, however, the Lady Matadors were all smiles.
“We got out there and kept the score close for the first two games with the best energy we’ve had this year,” said Northridge middle hitter Kathleen Dixon, who had 12 kills. “This was a good match for us. If we can keep this energy, we’ll be unstoppable.”
At least against Division II teams.
But in the first game Wednesday, the Bruins took advantage of three consecutive serving errors by the Lady Matadors and parlayed their own serves into a 3-0 lead.
Northridge came back twice to tie the game, 3-3 and 10-10, before building a 12-10 lead behind outside hitter Franci Bowman, who finished with 12 kills.
The game was tied, 13-13, before UCLA pulled away for the win on a spike by Shaver and a block by All-American middle blocker Daiva Tomkus.
“That first game was a little bit harder than we thought it would be,” said Tomkus, who finished with 11 kills.
The second game was also close in the early going. But UCLA went ahead, 5-4, on a spike by former Chaminade High standout Tomkus after a long rally and the Bruins never trailed.
In the decisive third game, UCLA went ahead, 4-2, before Jennifer Gratteau served six consecutive points. Shaver ended the 80-minute match with a spike.
“They were a much better blocking team than anybody we’ll see all year, as good a passing team we’ll see and athletically there’s no comparison,” said Ker, whose team travels to Portland this weekend to participate in a five-team round-robin tournament. “If we play this way against anybody in Division II, the outcome will be different.”