The top-ranked UCLA women’s volleyball team, led by outside hitters Natalie Williams, Jenny Evans and Samantha Shaver, will open its season in the Volleyball Monthly Invitational this weekend at the University of Wisconsin.
The Bruins, coached by Andy Banachowski, will play Duke on Friday and meet Pittsburgh and Wisconsin on Saturday.
Williams, a sophomore All-American, was third in hitting in the Pacific 10 Conference last season at .348. Evans, a junior, led the Bruins in digs with 280. Shaver, a senior and a top defensive player, had three matches last year with 20 or more digs.
Junior All-American outside hitter Elaine Youngs had arthroscopic surgery on her left knee on Aug. 18 and will not play this season. But she is eligible to play for two more years.
Senior setter Holly McPeak, a transfer from UC Berkeley, is expected to be a valuable addition to the Bruins. She played for one the state’s best programs at Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach.
The Pepperdine women’s volleyball team, three-time defending West Coast Conference champion and a participant in the NCAA playoffs for the past four years, will begin the season at 12th-ranked USC at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the North Gymnasium on campus.
Coach Nina Matthies has four returning starters: junior setter-outside hitter Carolyn Hueth, an all-conference selection last season; junior outside hitter Cari Delson and sophomore middle blocker Debbie Merandi, who were on the all-conference second team, and senior outside hitter Nora Reyes.