LEXINGTON, Ky. – Regional Most Outstanding Player Rachael Kidder had a match-high 26 kills, junior Tabi Love posted 18 kills and senior Lainey Gera added 22 digs, as the ninth-seeded Bruins knocked off top-seed Texas in four sets Saturday in the Lexington regional championship match to advance to the national semifinals next weekend in San Antonio.
Set scores were 19-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21.
The Bruins improve to 28-6 on the season and advance to their 12th national semifinal and first since 2006. UCLA will play either No. 4 seed Iowa State or No. 12 seed Florida State on Thursday at either 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. ET.
Texas concludes its season at 25-5.
Kidder hit .417 for the match and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by senior Lauren Van Orden, who had 57 assists, five digs and three blocks, and sophomore Kelly Reeves, who recorded nine kills and 14 digs. Sophomore Mariana Aquino added five kills and four blocks, while freshman Zoë Nightingale had five kills and three blocks. The Bruins hit .269 for the match.
The first set featured nine ties and three lead changes, but thanks to their block, the Longhorns came away with the first set. UCLA was out to an early 5-3 lead on kills by Kidder, Love, Reeves and Van Orden and a combo block by Aquino and Van Orden. Texas scored the next three, but back-to-back kills by Love put the Bruins up 7-6. The Longhorns tied things at 7- and 8-all, but three in a row for UCLA on a Texas service and attack error and a Kidder kill put the Bruins on top 11-8.
Texas rallied with runs of 3-0, 5-1 and 7-2 to take a 15-13 edge. UCLA got two of the next three to cut its deficit to one at 16-15, but a 6-0 Longhorn run gave them a 22-15 advantage. Kidder had each of the last four points of the set for the Bruins on kills, but it was not enough, as Texas claimed the first set 25-19. Kidder had seven kills and no errors in 13 attempts (.538), while Love added three kills. The Bruins were out-hit .517 to .286.
Despite five tie scores, the Bruins never trailed in the second set. Tied at seven all, UCLA went on a 6-2 run to go ahead 13-9. Reeves had two kills during the run, Aquino and Kidder each posted one and Texas committed two attack errors. The biggest lead of the second set for the Bruins was five. Up 14-12, UCLA scored three in a row for the only time in the set on a trio of Love kills to go ahead 17-12.
Texas slowly crept back into it, and trailing 19-14, scored seven of nine to even the score at 21. But the Bruins scored four of the last five points of the set to take it 25-22. Nightingale had a kill and teamed up with Love on a block to make it 23-21. Texas sided out, but UCLA got a kill by Love to earn two set points and a Longhorn attack error completed the win. Love led the Bruins with six kills in the second, Kidder added five and Reeves posted three. Gera recorded five digs, as the Bruins out-hit the Longhorns .353 to .211.
The third set featured 16 ties and eight lead changes, but UCLA pulled away to go up 2-1 in the match. The Longhorns had an early 3-2 lead, but three in a row by the Bruins on a Kidder kill, a Nightingale/Reeves combo block and a Texas attack error put UCLA up 5-3. The Longhorns scored five of seven to re-take the lead at 8-7, and still led 10-9, but the Bruins scored four in a row on two Texas attack errors and back-to-back kills by Love to go up 13-10. Texas rallied again and had its own 4-0 run to forge ahead 14-13.
Down 15-14, the Bruins scored two in a row on a Kidder kill and a bad Texas set to take a 16-15 edge. Although it would be tied five more times in the set, UCLA would not relinquish the lead. Like the second set, with the score tied at 21, the Bruins scored four of the last five to win it 25-22. A Longhorn attack error, a Kidder kill and an ace from junior Bojana Todorovic gave the Bruins three set points. Texas saved the first point, but a Kidder kill, her team-best sixth of the set, completed a 25-22 win. Love added four kills and Nightingale posted three. Gera recorded eight digs, as the Bruins out-hit the Longhorns .204 to .190.
The Bruins trailed early in the fourth set, but never faced more than a two-point deficit. Trailing 10-8, the Bruins went on runs of 4-1 and 12-3 to open up a seven-point lead. Two Kidder kills and spikes by Aquino and Reeves accounted for the 4-1 run to put the Bruins up 12-11, as they never trailed for the rest of the set. After a Texas sideout tied it at 12, UCLA scored three in a row on a Longhorn service and attack error, and a Kidder kill, to make it 15-12. The Longhorns sided out again, but UCLA scored the next five on a Kidder kill, a Texas attack error, back-to-back kills by Love and a Van Orden dump to go ahead 20-13.
Texas made UCLA sweat, going on a 7-2 run to cut its deficit to two at 22-20. But back-to-back Kidder kills gave the Bruins four Regional Championship points. The Longhorns saved the first attempt, but a Reeves kill on try number two sealed up a 25-21 victory. Kidder led the Bruins with eight kills, while Love added five. Gera produced seven digs and Reeves posted five, as the Bruins out-hit the Longhorns .263 to .222.