With an upset victory already in the books, the San Diego State women’s volleyball team had high hopes of working its way into tonight’s West Regional final and possibly to the Final Four.
Unfortunately, the Aztecs’ hopes were dashed rather subtely by powerful Stanford in the way of a 15-11, 13-15, 15-6, 15-1 victory in front of 1,295 at UCLA’s Wooden Center.
For the Aztecs (24-12), it appeared that taking the second game merely riled No. 3 Stanford (27-3), which will play UCLA tonight for the right to advance to the Final Four.
“They got a wakeup call,” Aztec Coach Rudy Suwara said. “I feel like we ran into the Stanford wall.”
That wall consisted of Bev Oden, the Cardinal’s powerful sophomore hitter who had a game-high 16 kills, and of the 6-foot junior Kristen Klein and senior hitter Jessica Benton.
The Aztecs’ hitting percentage suffered accordingly--SDSU hit only 6.7%. Gracie Shutt was the only Aztec player in double figures in kills with 14. Jennifer Miller had eight.
The trio seemed to intimidate the young No. 19 Aztecs, whose defense was not what it was when they upset No. 11 BYU last week in Provo, Utah.
“We played a lot better last week,” Suwara said. “But we are young, and we’re looking forward to the future.”
As Suwara had hoped, SDSU had some success serving, with seven aces. But the Aztecs committed eight service errors.
Against New Mexico, UCLA trailed 12-5 in the fourth game and were on the verge of being taken to a fifth game in a match in which they had lost all momentum.
But that changed after Coach Andy Banachowski had called a timeout that appeared to give the Bruins new life.
Utilizing a balanced hitting attack set up by Holly McPeak, UCLA rallied in front of 1,295 in the Wooden Center to defeat No. 14 New Mexico, 15-8, 11-15, 15-3, 16-14, and advance to tonight’s West Regional final.
“The coaches told us to relax and take a breath and then we all came together,” senior hitter Samantha Shaver said. “Andy said they got their 10 points and now it’s our turn to get ours and we jelled so well after that, nobody could stop us.”
The Bruins (33-1) opened a 2-1 lead by winning the third game in only 14 minutes.
But New Mexico, primarily on the hitting of Maria Gurreri and Australian Sharon Browning, rebounded in the fourth and appeared to have a chance to upset the Bruins.
But after Banachowski’s timeout the Bruins managed to make the score 14-14, getting a point when Pauline Manser’s line shot went wide and winning on Jenny Evans’ kill off of an overset.