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Breaking Down Wednesday's UCLA-Wash. Thriller

UCLA has shown a flair in this young season for the dramatic, beginning with an opening-weekend loss to Nebraska (15-13 in the fifth). Wednesday night, the Bruins played another epic match, losing in five at Washington as the Huskies won all three of their games by the minimum two-point margin (22-25, 30-28, 19-25, 28-26, 16-14.)

Despite entering the UCLA match undefeated, Washington was largely untested (a match against Purdue being the exception). Now, however, the Huskies have shown that they belong among the nation's elite.

The UCLA-Washington showdown featured a match-within-a-match aspect, namely a battle between the teams' slugging outside hitters. For the Huskies, it was sophomore Krista Vansant going against Bruin seniors Tabi Love and Rachael Kidder.

Based on the play-by-play sheet (which I accessed by going to the Huskies' schedule page and then clicking on the archived Gametracker for the UCLA match), I created the following chart of what I thought were the key statistical indicators (you may click on the chart to enlarge it). All of my tabulations from the Gametracker play-by-play matched the official box score, with the exception that I counted 30 kills for Vansant and the box score on the UW said she had 31. (Attacked balls kept in play are not listed on the play-by-play sheet, hence my focus on kills and errors.)


UCLA likely would have gone up 2-0 in games but for amazing U-Dub performances on two counts. Not only did Vansant record 10 kills with only 1 hitting error; the Huskies also blocked 6 Bruin spike attempts for immediate points (2 on swings by Kidder, 1 on a swing by Love).

Then, despite fifth games being shorter than the previous games (up to 15, instead of 25), Vansant amassed 7 kills (with 2 errors). She ended up hitting .448 on the night. Love, though hitting nearly error-free for most of the match, struggled a bit in Game 4, with 4 errors (3 balls hit astray and 1 attempt blocked). She ended up hitting .266. Kidder was a little more uneven, finishing up at .196. 

The Huskies return to the court tonight, hosting USC.

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