- UCLA defeats Baylor 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-20)
- UCLA advances to the regional round where they’ll face UNC
- Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
- Attendance: 1,018
The #10 UCLA Bruins rolled through the second round of the NCAA Tournament, easily dispatching Baylor in a 3-0 sweep. UCLA now moves on to the regional round against ACC champ North Carolina.
It was a hot start for the Bruins, who never trailed in the first set en route to a 25-21 win. In the second set, the Bruins hit .372 to jump up two sets, and another 25-20 win sealed the match just three sets in.
Reily Buechler led with 13 kills, also chipping in 6 blocks. Meanwhile freshman Torrey Van Winden just missed a double double, hitting 12 kills and 9 digs.
Baylor finished a season in which its team consistently overperformed relative to expectations. The Bears weren’t even projected to make the NCAA tournament in our last analysis, but not only got in but won their first round matchup. Aniah Philo had a game-high 16 kills and Katie Staiger 14 as Baylor fell 3-0.
UCLA’s next match takes place in Minneapolis, Minnesota. If the Bruins win, they take on the winner of #2 seed Minnesota and SEC Champ Missouri.
LOS ANGELES – Junior Reily Buechler led the 10th-seeded Bruins with 13 kills, adding six digs, while freshman Torrey Van Winden notched 12 kills, a .346 hitting percentage and nine digs, as UCLA swept Baylor on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion in the Second Round of the NCAA Championship. Set scores were 25-21, 25-20, 25-20.
The Bruins advance to the Regional Semifinals, which will take place in Minneapolis next Friday. UCLA (26-6) will face #7-seed North Carolina in the early match, while host and #2 Minnesota will take on #15-seed Missouri. Times will be announced on either Sunday or Monday. Friday’s contest will have a live video stream on ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN app.
Senior Ryann Chandler recorded a double-double with 14 assists and 11 digs, while freshman Kylie Miller had 23 assists and six digs, as the Bruins hit .261 for the match. Senior Taylor Formico tallied 14 digs and tied a career high with four aces, senior Jordan Anderson added six kills, senior Claire Felix had six kills and senior Jennie Frager posted five kills with three blocks.
The Bruins never trailed in taking the opening set, scoring six of the first eight on kills by Frager and Anderson, a Frager/Buechler block and three Baylor errors. The Bears (22-12) cut their deficit to one at both 7-6 and 9-8, but a 6-1 run put the Bruins up 15-9, as Felix had two kills, Frager and Van Winden had a combo block, Chandler served an ace and Baylor made two errors. Six would prove to be the Bruins’ largest lead of the set, as they were up by that margin as late as 18-12, before Baylor scored eight of 10 to even things at 20. However, the Bruins wouldn’t be denied, scoring five of the last six to win the opener 25-21. Four in a row on three Van Winden kills and a Formico ace gave the Bruins four set points, and on the second attempt, a Felix kill wrapped up the victory. Buechler had four kills, while Felix and Van Winden each posted an error-free three kills. Formico added four digs. The Bruins out-hit the Bears .281 to .175.
Baylor’s largest lead of set two was a pair at 4-2, 5-3 and 7-5. UCLA responded with five in a row to go ahead 10-7. Van Winden had two kills, Formico posted a kill and an ace and Baylor committed an error. Up 13-10, a 5-1 run brought the Bruins’ lead to a set-best seven at 18-11. Buechler had two of the points on kills, Felix and Frager both had kills and Baylor made an error. The closest the Bears would get the rest of the way was four, as a Frager kill closed out a 25-20 triumph in the second. Van Winden paced the Bruins in both kills (7) and digs (5) in the set. Buechler added four kills, while Chandler and Formico both had four digs. The Bruins out-hit the Bears .372 to .273.
Set three was the tightest of the match with 11 ties and eight lead changes. Baylor’s largest lead was two on several occasions. At 7-5, three in a row for the Bruins gave the home team a one-point edge, as Felix and senior Haley Lawless combined for a block and Formico recorded back-to-back aces. After Baylor re-took the lead at 10-9, a BU attack error and a Buechler kill put the Bruins back up. UCLA got its lead to two at 13-11, but a 4-1 Bear run put the visitors ahead by one at 15-14. Baylor still led at 17-16 before three in a row for the Bruins on a Felix kill and consecutive Anderson kills made it 19-17. UCLA wouldn’t trail for the rest of the set. At 20-19, the Bruins scored five of six to win the third 25-20, as a Buechler kill finished up the sweep. Buechler had five kills in the third, Anderson added three and Chandler and Formico each recorded six digs, as the Bruins were out-hit .158 to .125.
LOS ANGELES — Baylor volleyball’s improbable 2016 season came to an end Saturday night as the Bears dropped a straight-set match (25-21, 25-20, 25-20) to eighth-ranked UCLA in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Picked to finish seventh in the nine-team Big 12 Conference, Baylor (22-12) tied Kansas State for fourth in the league standings, one game behind third-place Iowa State, with a 9-7 conference record. The Bears earned an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 2011 and reached the tournament’s second round for the first time since 2009 and only the third time in program history.
However, Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion, UCLA (26-6) avenged a second-round loss to Baylor from 2009, and the Bruins advanced to a regional semifinal for the third straight season and the 13th time since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1998.
“I’m so proud of this team,” Baylor coach Ryan McGuyre said. “The number of wins, the battles, the five-set victories we’ve had. From Morgan Reed’s maturity to Jana Brusek’s consistency, just the growth we’ve had. It’s a special team for me because I’ve learned. They’ve inspired me.”
Baylor enjoyed its 2016 run despite being without two starters all season due to injury and losing a third to a season-ending injury in the conference opener.
“I’ve caught myself being discouraged at times,” McGuyre said. “When you see their resiliency, and you see them getting back in the gym, going hard, it makes me make sure we’re giving them our best as a staff. It was fun as a staff this year and it was tiring, but these girls are fun to be around.”
Aniah Philo continued her stellar offensive production with 16 kills against UCLA, hitting at a .316 percentage. It was Philo’s ninth double-figure kills total in the last 11 matches and equaled her career high, established last season when she was at Louisville. Philo had 14 kills in Baylor’s first-round victory over 14th-ranked San Diego.
“She swung like an animal,” McGuyre said of Philo. “It’s good when you see players play their best in championship moments.”
Katie Staiger tallied 14 kills, eight digs and four blocks. She finished the season with 698 kills, two shy of the Big 12 single-season record established by Texas A&M’s Laura Jones in 2004. Reed collected 37 assists and 10 digs.
“Katie held us together, and Morgan was really the MVP for our team these past two matches,” McGuyre said. “UCLA is a great team. There’s a reason they were the No. 10 seed in the tournament. They have a lot of fire power. We slowed them down at times, but our transition game wasn’t terminal enough.”
Baylor trailed 9-8 in the first set before the Bruins pulled away with a 6-1 run. The Bears eventually got back within a point at 18-17 thanks to a 5-0 run and eventually tied the opener, 20-20. But a service ace and three Torrey Van Winden kills gave the Bruins set point. Philo stemmed the tide with a kill, but Claire Felix closed the set with a kill.
In the second set, Baylor built a 7-5 lead, but again the Bruins put together a run and took control of the set. This time, it was five straight points, and the Bears never again got within three points in the set. Set three was an intense battle, with neither team leading more than two points until Reily Buechler’s kill gave the Bruins a 22-19 edge. The Bears never again got within two points, and Buechler closed the match with her 13th kill. Van Winden finished with 12 kills and nine digs.
UCLA hit .261 (45 kills, 15 errors, 115 attempts) and held Baylor to a .205 clip (43-18-122). Statistically, though, the biggest difference was at the service line, where the Bears committed seven errors with one ace. The Bruins committed only one service error and had five aces, including four alone from libero Taylor Formico.
“Offensively, we sided out at times, we had a lot of kills,” McGuyre said. “But between a few missed serves and service errors, that’s your two- or three-point spread that has you playing from behind.”
Staiger, who will be a fifth-year senior next season, credited McGuyre for the program’s current upward trajectory.
“I’m excited for next year to keep this growth going,” she said. “The sky is going to be the limit. It stinks to lose, but we’re already thinking, ‘How can we get to where we can host next year? What do we need to do?’ But it was an incredible season. This group of people that God put on this team, it was incredible how He worked and brought us this far.”
Baylor must replace departing seniors Reed (setter) and Alex Banister (defensive specialist), but the Bears should have a full cupboard of talent with the return of Staiger, Philo, Brusek, Freiberg, Ashley Fritcher and Nicole Thomas, all of whom were regular starters this season.
The Bears also will regain the services of 2015 Freshman All-Big 12 selection Shelly Fanning, as well as middle hitters Tola Itiola and Jaelyn Jackson—all would-have-been starters who sustained season-ending injuries this year. Not to mention other returning players and a strong incoming freshman class.
“Disappointment is usually the start of a great journey, not the end,” McGuyre said. “We were disappointed when Shelly was hurt, when Tola was hurt, when Jaelyn was hurt. We can hold onto the hope that it’s not the end, it’s the beginning. We learned something about ourselves this year as we learned to battle and fight. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. We’ll know how to work hard, and we’re going to get some great talent.”