NCAA Women’s Volleyball Final Four : Texas Upsets UCLA in Semifinals
The UCLA women’s volleyball team had rarely been challenged this season en route to a 34-0 record and a berth in the final four of the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. championships at the University of Minnesota.
Taking even one game from the Bruins was considered a moral victory by most teams.
But the dream season came to a sudden and crashing end Thursday at Williams Arena as Texas stunned UCLA, 16-14, 15-11, 15-13, in the semifinals.
UCLA, which had been ranked No. 1 most of the season, was attempting to become the first unbeaten national champion.
Texas (33-5) will face defending champion Hawaii (33-2) in Saturday’s final. The teams have not met this season.
Hawaii, led by former Southern California stars Tee Williams, Karrie Trieschman and Carolyn Taetafa, defeated Illinois, 15-1, 15-12, 13-15, 15-13.
Williams, a two-time All-American from Lakewood, had 20 kills. Trieschman, a sophomore from Manhattan Beach, added 11 kills and hit .347. Taetafa, a freshman from San Diego, led all players with 23 kills.
UCLA had lost only 1 game to Texas in 2 regular-season matches. But Thursday night, Texas was a different team.
UCLA came from behind to lead, 13-10, in the first game, but Texas tied the score, then won on Stacie Nichols’ kill.
The second game wasn’t close, Texas running off to a 9-2 lead, and in the third game, Texas built another big lead, 8-2.
UCLA rallied twice, first at 10-10 and again at 12-12, but then a double-hit call and a big kill by Texas sophomore Quandalyn Harrell gave the Longhorns a 2-point lead. All-American setter Ann Boyer, the Bruins’ lone senior in the lineup, hit a ball out to end the match.
Although the Bruins had three All-Americans, they lacked the experience of Texas, which has four senior starters who are playing in their third straight national tournament. UCLA depends largely on two freshmen and two sophomores. Boyer is the only Bruin who had played in a the Final Four.
Texas had four hitters with 12 or more kills, and middle blocker Nichols hit .619 on 14 kills in 21 attempts with only 1 error.
Katie Salen added 13 kills for Texas and Dawn Davenport had 12 kills and 20 digs.
By contrast, UCLA’s Laurie Jones hit only .076 and her replacement in the third game, freshman Jenny Evans also was ineffective. UCLA’s two All-American middle blockers, Elaine Youngs and Daiva Tomkus played well, combining for 28 kills, but neither could keep up the pace later in the match.
UCLA Coach Andy Banachowski said his team’s poor serving, particularly at critical times, was a main reason for the loss.
Hawaii has won the national championship each of the three previous times it has been to the Final Four. This is the first time Texas has made it to the final in three trips to the 8-year-old tournament.
Illinois (30-4), which lost in the semifinals for the second consecutive year, was led by Mary Eggers’ 16 kills.
Hawaii used 3 aces and 5 kills by Williams to score the first 14 points of the first game. After Hawaii took the second game, Illinois rallied behind 8 kills by Eggers to win the third game. Seven kills by Williams and 5 Taeatafa lifted Hawaii in the final game.