UCLA blocks way into round of 16
Team ties season best during four-set win against San Diego
LOS ANGELES -- Sophomore Mariana Aquino had nine kills and a career-high 11 blocks, as the Bruins tied a season best with 17 blocks as a team, while juniors Rachael Kidder and Tabi Love each added 17 kills in No. 9 UCLA's four-set win against San Diego on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the John Wooden Center. Set scores were 25-16, 25-15, 22-25, 25-17.
The Bruins improve to 26-6 overall and will play eighth-seeded Penn State in the regional semifinal Friday in Lexington, Ky. The time of the match, which will be broadcast is yet to be announced. The Toreros conclude their season with a 28-5 record.
Aquino hit .571 for the match with only one error in 14 attempts, while Kidder and Love each added six blocks. Senior Lainey Gera (23) and junior Bojana Todorovic (13) were each in double figures in digs. Senior Lauren Van Orden produced 47 assists, eight digs, five blocks and three kills and sophomore Kelly Reeves added seven kills and nine digs. The Bruins hit .268 for the match.
The Toreros scored the first point of the match, but the Bruins got the next three on an Aquino kill and back-to-back combo blocks by Aquino and Reeves and then Aquino and Kidder to go up 3-1. UCLA never trailed for the rest of the set. Leading 6-4, the Bruins netted three straight on a kill by freshman Zoë Nightingale and consecutive spikes from Love to go ahead 9-4. With the score 11-6, the Toreros scored four straight to cut their deficit to one at 11-10. San Diego was within one again at 12-11 and 13-12, but could not get back to equal.
UCLA scored four in a row and seven of eight to take a 20-13 advantage. Four straight kills by Kidder made it 17-12, and after a San Diego sideout, another Kidder kill, a solo block by Love and a Nightingale spike made it a seven-point difference. Still ahead 22-16, the Bruins got the final three of the set on a USD attack error and back-to-back kills by Reeves to win it 25-16. Kidder led the Bruins with six kills in the opener, while Aquino, Love and Reeves each had three. Aquino also had three blocks, as the Bruins out-hit the Toreros .333 to .056.
San Diego broke out to early leads of 5-2 and 7-4 in the second set, but UCLA scored 11 unanswered points and the rout was on. Two kills by Love, with a Van Orden kill in between tied the score at seven. After a USD attack error, Van Orden came through on two consecutive points with a solo block and a combo roof with Aquino to make it 10-7. Two more combo blocks by Aquino and Love and Aquino and Van Orden, along with three USD attack errors, gave UCLA a 15-7 advantage.
Leading 15-9, the Bruins scored five of six to go up by double digits for the first time at 20-10. Love and Todorovic each had kills during the run, as USD also committed three errors. UCLA went on to win the second 25-15 following Love's team-best fifth kill of the set. Van Orden added three kills and three blocks, Kidder had three kills and Aquino recorded four blocks. Gera added six digs, as the Bruins out-hit the Toreros .258 to -.026.
The Bruins scored the first three points of the third set, but the Toreros pecked away at their deficit and took their first lead of the set at 9-8. UCLA responded with three straight and six of seven to go up by four at 14-10. Kills by Reeves, Aquino and Kidder made it 11-9. After a USD sideout, an Aquino kill, a Kidder solo block and a Torero attack error made it a four-point difference.
UCLA still led by four at 19-15, but San Diego closed out the third with a 10-3 run to force a fourth set. Kidder had five kills to lead the Bruins in the third set, Aquino added four and Love posted three. Gera recorded eight digs, as the Bruins were out-hit .250 to .140.
The Bruins had an early 7-4 lead in the fourth set on two kills from both Kidder and senior Sara Sage, a kill by Love, a Kidder/Nightingale combo block and a USD attack error, but the Toreros scored the next four to take an 8-7 edge. UCLA countered with the next three points on a kill and solo block by Love and a combo roof from Aquino and Love to go ahead 10-8. USD tied the score at 10-all, but a 3-0 UCLA run on a Torero attack error, a Reeves kill and an Aquino/Love combo block made it 13-10.
The Bruins' lead would not dip below two for the rest of the set. With the score 14-12, UCLA got four of five on kills by Aquino, Kidder and Todorovic and a Kidder/Sage combo block to go ahead 18-13. San Diego cut its deficit to three at 19-16, but the Bruins scored six of the last seven points of the match to win the fourth 25-17. Two kills by Love and an Aquino/Love combo block made it 22-16. After a USD sideout, back-to-back kills by Love and one from Reeves on match point finished off the eight-point win. Love posted six kills and four blocks in the fourth, while Kidder added three kills. Sophomore Meg Norton had six digs, while Gera and Todorovic added five apiece. The Bruins out-hit the Toreros .349 to .094.