The country’s second-best team is on the slate for the Bruins’ final homestand.
UCLA women’s volleyball (16-10, 8-8 Pac-12) will host No. 2 Stanford (22-3, 15-1) and California (15-12, 4-12) on Friday and Sunday, respectively, in its last time facing off against its Bay Area adversaries as conference opponents.
Sunday’s showpiece will be the Bruins’ final home game of the regular season, as well as their chance to honor their veterans on Senior Day.
Setter Audrey Pak, outside/opposite hitter Iman Ndiaye, opposite hitter Kate Lane and graduate student middle blocker Desiree Becker are the four graduates being celebrated this weekend.
In UCLA’s matchup against Washington State on Nov. 10, Pak and Ndiaye both earned new records as the former set a career-high figure of 61 assists, and the latter notched a season-high 21 kills on the night.
“I think Audrey and Iman have been working tremendously hard in their games,” said coach Alfee Reft. ” I think they’ve shown tremendous growth over the course of the season and are a big reason as to why our team is finding some success down the road here.”
The Bruins last played the Cardinal at Maples Pavilion. Despite dropping the four-set showdown, it was also Ndiaye and Pak who led from the front with 12 kills and 33 assists, respectively.
This time around, however, home-court advantage will favor the Bruins. And even though this is the last time the team will compete at home this regular season, sophomore outside hitter Cheridyn Leverette said the focus stays the same.
“I think we have been putting the work in the gym,” said sophomore outside hitter Cheridyn Leverette. “It’s just a matter of our hard work coming to the table.”
Beyond Ndiaye, three other Bruins hit double digits in their last contest against Washington State. Redshirt senior middle blocker Anna Dodson set a career-high with 17 kills at a .577 clip, along with five blocks. Leverette followed with 16 of her own and Becker added 11 kills as well.
The Bruins have won five of their last six matches, eclipsing individual and team records along the way. The squad tallied season-high figures of 74 kills, 68 assists, 13 service aces and 64 digs through its most recent excursion.
A set of victories this weekend – including one against the country’s second-best squad – could propel UCLA closer to a shot at an NCAA tournament appearance.
Dodson said she is hopeful for a NCAA run.
“Right now, we are in a very good spot, and we had a dip, but now it’s solely upwards,” Dodson said.
Just four days before Friday’s first serve, Dodson was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in her collegiate career. The middle blocker’s accolade marks UCLA’s first weekly honor since Nov. 1, 2021. Dodson currently ranks third in the Pac-12 with a .388 hitting percentage and has racked up 1.26 blocks per set, good for fifth in the country.
The action begins this Friday as the Bruins take on the Cardinal at 7 p.m., followed by Senior Day kicking off at 12 p.m. Sunday against the Golden Bears.