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2018-04-24T06:30:53.703Z
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Now that the Bruins have won the weekend series against Washington, they will look to sweep the Huskies and, hopefully, their #1 ranking.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Madeline Jelenicki came to the plate for UCLA. Jelenicki took the first pitch from Gabbie Plain for ball one. After fouling off the second pitch and taking a called strike, Jelenicki found a pitch she liked and drove it to left and over the 1978 National Championship banner to give the Bruins the second straight win over the top-ranked Huskies.

And, in just two days, the Bruins have managed to double Washington’s loss total for the season.

But, it wasn’t a guaranteed win.

The Huskies scored first with two runs in the first off starter Holly Azevedo, but the Bruins came back in the fourth inning when Aaliyah Jordan hit a two-run home run to right to tie the game up.

Meanwhile, Rachel Garcia, who had replaced Azevedo in the circle in the third inning, held the Huskies scoreless over 413 innings. Garcia struck out six and only allowed one hit and one walk for her 15th win of the year.

But she almost lost this one.

Garcia hit two batters in the sixth, giving the Huskies runners on first and second with two outs. That brought...

Meanwhile, Daniel Amaral was just a homer short of hitting for the cycle.

What do you do for an encore after beating your crosstown rivals 16-1 in the opening game of a three-game series? You beat them 19-2 in game 2, of course!

That’s what happened yesterday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Stadium when the Bruins and Trojans met again. The big win gives UCLA another series win. Today, the Bruins will look for a weekend sweep when they meet for the final time in the regular season.

Kevin Kendall got the Bruins on the board in the bottom of the first with a solo home run. Chase Strumpf followed Kendall with a single to right. He would later score on a Daniel Amaral single that gave UCLA a 2-0 lead.

Southern Cal responded when Zach Pettway gave up a solo homer to Ben Ramirez in the top of the second.

The Bruins tacked on three more runs in the third. After Strumpf walked to lead off the inning, Amaral tripled to right center to score Strumpf. That would end up being the game-winning RBI for the Bruins, but they weren’t even close to being done offensively. Garrett Mitchell’s single scored Amaral and Will McInerny eventually drove Mitchell in to make it 5-1, Bruins.

The Trojans scored their second run of the game in the top of the...

Home court advantage matters as the Bruins lose the MPSF title to BYU.

Repeat after me: Home court advantage is important.

Having the home court advantage can help a team win championships. That’s what happened tonight in Provo, Utah where BYU, the top seed in the MPSF and host of the MPSF Men’s Volleyball Championship, defeated UCLA in four sets, 25-17, 21-25, 18-25, 21-25.

The Bruins started off by winning the first set, but they fell behind early. BYU scored on the first three volleys and they led 6-3 after nine points. UCLA hung in, though, and tied the set up 10-10. After BYU took a 13-12 lead, the Bruins went on a 7-0 run to go up 19-13. The Cougars kept fighting and managed to cut UCLA’s lead to four at 21-17. The Bruins finished strong by winning the last four points of the set.

Unfortunately, that was the only set that the Bruins finished strong.

In the second set, UCLA took a two-point on four separate occasions — at 6-4, 8-6, 12-10 and 13-11 — but a 4-0 gave the Cougars a 15-13 lead. The Bruins managed to tie it back up at 18-18, but a 6-2 BYU run gave the Cougars their first set point of the night at 24-20. Micah Ma’a killed the next volley, but the Bruins weren’t able to close the gap any more and dropped the second set, 25-21.

Despite the fact...

Back-to-back Perfect Tens from Peng-Peng Lee propels UCLA to 115th National Championship!

To quote Jack Buck, “I don’t believe what I just saw.”

The UCLA Gymnastics team has won the school’s 115th NCAA title and the program’s 7th national championship.

But, it didn’t look like it was going to be possible.

The meet didn’t start well for the Bruins. On the Floor Exercise, UCLA scored a 49.4625. It was an alright start, but it featured an uncharacteristic fall by Kyla Ross during her routine that kept UCLA from scoring higher. In fact, only two Bruins, Felicia Hano and Katelyn Ohashi, scored better than a 9.8875. Hano earned a 9.90 for her routine and Ohashi scored a 9.95.

From there, things got a little bit worse for the Bruins as the team moved to the Vault. UCLA only scored a 49.2250 here and only two Bruins, Anna Glenn and Napualani Hall, scored better than a 9.8375. Glenn was UCLA’s high scorer on the event with a 9.8875 while Hall wrapped up the event for the Bruins with a 9.875.

As a result, midway through the competition, UCLA was in fourth place behind Oklahoma, Florida and LSU. The Sooners led with a score of 99.0125 while UCLA trailed by 0.3250 with a score of 98.6875.

Things weren’t looking good for the Bruins, but UCLA had their two best events in front of them — the Uneven Bars and the Balance Beam. If...

The Bruins head across town to battle their rivals in the final game of the regular season.

Two weeks ago, the #4 UCLA Women’s Water Polo team faced off against then-#1 Stanford. It was a tough game for the Bruins.

Stanford jumped out to a 4-0 advantage before Rachel Whitelegge got UCLA on the scoreboard, The Cardinal added another goal before the end of the quarter and it was 5-1, Stanford.

The Bruins cut the lead to 5-2 with the only goal of the second quarter when Myrna Simmons scored a power play goal with 3:04 left in the half.

After the break, Maddie Musselman sparked a Bruin rally that saw UCLA score three consecutive third quarter goals to tie the game at 5-5. Unfortunately for UCLA, the rest of the game went Stanford’s way as the Cardinal closed the third quarter by going up 6-5.

Stanford added two more insurance goals in the fourth while their defense stymied the Bruin attack to seal the win for the Cardinal.

Since the Bruins lost that game, there is now a new #1 team in the country as Southern Cal took over the top spot after beating the Cardinal last weekend. As a result, UCLA will now face the top-ranked team in consecutive games. Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more likely that UCLA will need to win the upcoming MPSF Tournament...

The Bruins and the Cougars will play tonight for the MPSF’s automatic bid in the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Tournament.

After taking longer than expected to get past Concordia on Thursday, the UCLA Men’s Volleyball team plays tonight for the MPSF Men’s Volleyball Championship.

Their opponent will be the top-seeded BYU Cougars, who swept Southern Cal on Thursday, 25-17, 25-17, 25-22, to advance to tonight’s championship match.

In the two matches that UCLA and BYU played head-to-head this season, the home team has won every set. That would seem to put the Bruins at a big disadvantage going into tonight ‘s match. And, it very well might.

The good news is that it might not matter.

Last night, in the Big West Tournament, both #1 seed Long Beach State and #2 seed Hawai’i advanced to the championship game tonight. So, the Bruins may not have to win tonight in order to get into the NCAA Tournament.

According to the BYU website, tonight’s match should air on BYUtv, but, as of last night, BYUtv’s published schedule does not show the match in its listings. So, your mileage may vary. Additionally, if you’re a Spectrum customer, you may be limited to watching tonight’s match in standard definition.

This is your UCLA at BYU MPSF Volleyball Championship Game open thread.


Go Bruins!!!

UCLA jumped on Southern Cal early, with a five run first inning, and never looked back.

Last night at Jackie Robinson Stadium, the UCLA Bruin baseball team (23-10, 12-4 Pac-12) started the game hot and never let up against the Trojans, scoring five runs in the first inning and cruising to a 16-1 demolition of Southern Cal (18-16, 6-10 Pac-12). As dominant as the Bruins were, the game only counts as one victory in the standings and Southern Cal will enter today’s game with a clean slate and tons of motivation to even the series. UCLA will seek the series win.

It started quickly last night for the Bruins, as UCLA sent nine men to the plate in the first inning and scored five runs. The Bruins tallied six hits in the bottom half of the first frame, including a two run double from Chase Strumpf, to put UCLA up 2-0—all the runs UCLA would need on the day. The Bruins also registered RBI singles from Jack Stronach and Garrett Mitchell in the inning.

The Bruins added two more runs in the second inning to take a 7-0 lead, but Southern Cal had a change to get back into the game in the fifth inning. The Trojans had already pushed one run across the plate,...

Today’s meet will be the team’s toughest test yet this season, competing against collegiate’s best.

Yesterday’s semifinals were a pretty smooth ride for UCLA, as they came out on top in session one with a score of 197.5625, just ahead of LSU (197.4750) and Nebraska (197.0125). Session two saw Oklahoma (198.0500), Florida (197.5875), and Pac-12 foe Utah (197.1375) also earn a place in today’s Super Six.

The other reason the semifinals are important is because those are the performances used to determine the NCAA Gymnastics Individual Title. After the first session, UCLA’s gymnasts were in a good position to claim several individual titles.

No one could top Christine Peng-Peng Lee’s 9.9875 score on the balance beam and she is your Beam champion. On the floor exercise, Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols was able to match Katelyn Ohashi’s 9.9625 and they become co-champions.

Utah, UCLA, Florida and Oklahoma all have previous NCAA gymnastics titles in the recent past, with Oklahoma returning as the 2017 defending champs. UCLA’s last national title was in 2010, when everyone on the current team was in elementary school. I’d say we’re about due!

Today’s competition will be nothing less than the best gymnastics we’ve seen all year. These six teams have proven themselves on the regional and national level, and it’s great to see 13 of the competition coming from the Pac-12. UCLA...

The Bruins will look for the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

This afternoon in Provo, the Bruins beat the Concordia Eagles three sets to one to advance to the MPSF Championship Game on Saturday night.

It was a tougher match than expected for UCLA. Concordia took advantage of eight Bruin attack errors as the Eagles led for most of the first set. The Bruins jumped out to an early leadby scoring the first point as well as the third and UCLA led, 2-1. Concordia went on a 5-0 run powered by four Bruin attack errors to go ahead 6-2.

It took until 17-17 for UCLA to tie the set back up. The Bruins used the first two points of a 7-2 run to do so and eventually take a 22-19 lead. After the teams split the next four points, UCLA had their first set point at 24-21. But the Bruins blew three set points as the Eagles tied it back up at 24-24 as part of a 7-2 run and Concordia won the first set 28-26.

It’s safe to say that those eight attack errors cost the Bruins this set. In addition to the attack errors during the early Concordia run, the Bruins made two more attack errors during the...

The Bruins will look to get to the MPSF Championship game by beating the Eagles for the third time this season.

The UCLA Men’s Volleyball team will face off against Concordia this afternoon in the semifinals of the MPSF Men’s Volleyball Tournament. The Bruins are playing in the first semifinal against the Eagles.

Later this evening, top-seeded BYU will host Southern Cal, who advanced to the semifinals after beating Pepperdine last week.

Despite the fact that the Trojans were the sixth seed, they probably represent the best chance to keep the Cougars out of the MPSF Championship game, given that they have recently beaten both the Waves and UCLA.

But, first up, the Bruins face the Eagles.

While UCLA cannot afford to look past any match at this point in the season, this one should be a mere formality. That’s because in the two matches between the teams during the regular season, UCLA swept both matches. In fact, the Eagles came close to winning only one set in the first match when the second set of that match was extended due to the need for a team to win by two points.

But, even then, the Bruins still won that set 28-26. In the second match, the closest the Eagles got was losing the first set by three.

So, as long as...

The Bruins wrap-up the regular season with a trip down to Long Beach.

Here at Bruins Nation, we attempt to provide coverage of as many UCLA sports programs as we possibly can.

Unfortunately, we sometimes have to make some decisions as to which sports we’re just unable to cover on a regular basis and beach volleyball is one program we haven’t been able to cover at all this season.

Yet, the Bruin beach volleyball team has marched through their season and represents one of this spring’s best chances to win another national championship, considering that the team is currently ranked #1 in the nation for the third consecutive week with just this afternoon’s contest remaining in the regular season.

After starting off 5-3, with losses to Hawai’i, Southern Cal and Pepperdine, the Bruins have won 25 matches in a row.

A large part of that success has to do with the Megan and Nicole McNamara. The twins, who hail from Vancouver, Canada, are 27-8 this year and are the Bruins’ pair on court one. They have won 20 of their last 21 matches.

Meanwhile, on court two, UCLA features a familiar name. Sarah Sponcil, who also plays for the UCLA Women’s Volleyball team is paired with sophomor Lily Justine. This duo has won 10 straight matches and are 26-7 this season.

Court three has...

With Spring practice sessions coming to a close, the UCLA football team will take the field and hopefully show progress.

If you’re old enough to remember the drive to Vegas before everything along the 15 was built up, you might also remember the feeling of finally making it to Victorville. You weren’t all the way to Vegas, but at least you could get out, stretch your legs, and find something to eat. Well, the Spring Game is like Victorville...we haven’t quite gotten to the football season yet, but it’s a little something to hold you over. And, I think this year people are a little more in need of some sustenance.

UCLA finished the 2017 season with a 6-7 record, resulting in the firing of Head Coach Jim Mora and a pathetic showing at a lower-tier bowl game. In one of the boldest moves the UCLA Atheltic Department has made during Dan Guerrero’s reign as athletic director, UCLA hired Chip Kelly on November 25, 2017. Now, we get to see what Kelly can bring to Westwood.

We all know that the offense isn’t going to be anywhere near what we’ll see come September. Kelly is infamous for playing things close to the vest and he is yet to sit down one-on-one with a single member of a Los Angeles media outlet. But we know...

Sunday’s game was over before the Utes came to bat.

Going into Sunday’s finale of the Utah series, the Bruins were looking to bust out their brooms again and, sure enough, they did. And, they did it in grand fashion, I might add.

That’s because the visiting Bruins put up a 5-spot before the Utes could even come to bat. Not only that, but every Bruin batter came to the plate before a single Ute could bat. In other words, the game was over before it had really even begun.

UCLA started off the game loading the bases with their first three batters. Then, Jeremy Ydens scored when Michael Toglia was hit by a pitch. A sacrifice fly by Jack Stronach scored Kevin Kendall to make it 2-0, UCLA. Two batters later, Garrett Mitchell hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out, but Chase Strumpf was able to score on the play and it gave the Bruins runners on the corners.

Sensing that the Bruins had their collective foot on the Utes’ neck, UCLA Head Coach John Savage called a double steal that moved Mitchell up to second and scored Toglia. That play also allowed Mitchell to score when Ryan Kreidler doubled to right-center. It would also prove to be the game-winning hit.

The Bruins added an insurance run in the second to give...

Plus, Bruin baseball, softball and other news

Let’s get right to today’s UCLA sports news.

UCLA Men’s Basketball

Following a weekend during which the UCLA Athletic Department had no comment regarding the termination of David Grace, there was finally an announcement yesterday that Murry Bartow, the son of former UCLA Men’s Basketball coach Gene Bartow, will officially join Steve Alford’s staff.

The announcement of Bartow’s hiring wasn’t the big news in that release, as much as there was finally a statement issued by somebody employed by UCLA regarding the decision not to retain David Grace.

The announcement contained a statement from UCLA Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Alford. In it, Alford said:

As head coach, I am responsible for evaluating our season and determining what I feel will make us better as we move forward. When Dan Guerrero and I met following the season, we spoke about a number of areas in which we need to get better. I asked Dan if he would be supportive of a personnel change and he indicated he would support what I needed to do to improve the program. From there, I made the decision to go in a different direction with David Grace’s position. David and I have differing accounts of our conversation, but the bottom line is that I thank him for his impact here and wish him the best moving forward.

Of course, there’s no clear reason...

Do the Bruins finally have a way to get out from under Alford’s contract without giving him a huge payday?

You know, a lot of folks have argued that UCLA was waiting until after Steve Alford’s buyout drops after April 30th in order to fire him. That’s a pipe dream because of the way the contract is written.

Sure, Alford’s buyout does, in fact, drop by $2.6M come May 1. But, I went and re-read the contract details this morning and realized that everyone has focused on the buyout amount, but failed to see the language immediately before the buyout amounts.

The “Termination Without Cause” section of Alford’s contract states that the

University shall only be obligated to pay as follows: The amount of Base Salary, Talent Fee and Deferred Compensation identified in Sections 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 of this Agreement during the remainder of the contract year (ending April 30) in which the termination occurred; and....

It then lists the buyout amounts. In other words, if UCLA were to fire Steve Alford without cause on May 1, UCLA would still owe Alford $2.6M for the contract year ending April 30, 2019, plus a $3.6M buyout for the remainder of the contract, making it essentially no different than if they fired him without cause on April 29th.

So, let’s put that whole buyout drop date pipe dream on the shelf, shall we?

All of that...

Garcia earned her 12th win on the mound with three shutout innings.

The UCLA Softball team scored in each of the final four innings en route to a 7-3 victory over the Arizona Wildcats. The win gives the Bruins another series win and sets up another potential series sweep this evening.

Arizona got on the board first when Ivy Davis scored on a sacrifice fly by Alyssa Palomino in the bottom of the third.

Aaliyah Jordan led off the fourth for UCLA and she promptly doubled to left center. After Rachel Garcia flew out, Bubba Nickles hit a two-run blast to left to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.

After Bruin starter Holly Azevedo gave up the game-tying run in the bottom half of the inning, Garcia came in to pitch and she shut down the Wildcats.

Meanwhile, the Bruin offense kept rolling. Kinsley Washington led off the fifth inning for UCLA and she reached base on a fielding error by Arizona starter Alyssa Denham. Kylee Perez drove Washington in on a single to left as the Bruins retook the lead, 3-2. Jordan gave UCLA runners on the corners for Garcia, who hit an RBI single through the left side and the Bruins took a 4-2 lead.

In the sixth, Brianna Tautalafua started things off for the...

UCLA is again caught flat-footed by bad news.

Let me be honest upfront and say that I had resigned myself to Steve Alford being the coach of UCLA to start 2018, as it seemed like Alford and the UCLA athletic department had ridden out the anger and frustration of the fan base.

Of course, considering this is the current era of UCLA basketball, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that this program would find a way to remind everyone of their incompetence.

On Saturday, Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported that UCLA had let go of assistant coach David Grace. Grace had been the main recruiting force for the Bruins and had been behind UCLA bringing in top talents like T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, and Jaylen Hands, among others. Grace has also been with the program since Alford was hired. Of course, there had also been reports of friction between Alford and Grace the past few years and that Grace had been looking into open head coaching jobs in the past few years.

All of which is to say that this firing just doesn’t make a ton of sense. Of all the parts of the UCLA basketball program that are suffering at the moment, recruiting is not one of them. UCLA has brought in recruiting classes that have ranked in...

Kyle Molnar makes his first appearance since 2016, and gets the win pitching one inning of relief

Trailing for most of the game, the UCLA Bruin baseball team (21-9, 10-4 PAC 12) tied it up in the 8th inning and blew past Utah (9-24, 4-7 PAC 12) with a three run 9th inning, beating the Utes, 6-3, and earning the series win. The Bruins will try for the series sweep and Utah will try to salvage a win out of the series today at 12 noon, PT.

In yesterday’s game, the Utes struck quickly in the bottom of the 1st inning, on an Oliver Dunn solo home run. It was not long, however, before UCLA took the lead, 2-1, in the top of the 2nd inning, when Daniel Amaral singled home Jack Stronach and Michael Toglia.

Utah scored two more runs in the bottom of the 3rd inning, with Dunn yet again getting a big hit (an RBI double this time) and then scoring on a single by Rykker Tom. Utah would maintain its 3-2 lead until the 8th inning, when UCLA tied it up, 3-3, on an RBI single by Jeremy Ydens.

After Kyle Molnar (more on him in a moment) held Utah scoreless in the bottom of the 8th inning, UCLA came to the plate...

There were lots of short passes in yesterday’s practice, but it also seemed like some old bad habits may have returned.

Yesterday, UCLA football held its 12th Spring Practice session under new head coach Chip Kelly. My big observation was that there were an awful lot of passes which were landing on the ground. Now, some of those were the fault of the quarterbacks who either overthrew or underthrew their receiver, but the receivers seemed to be dropping their fair share of catchable balls.

While the winds from Thursday’s practice were no longer affecting the passing game, the Bruins still seemed to be relying on a lot of short passes during the 7-on-7 and team periods as well as during the smaller group sessions.

It also looked like some of the undisciplined play from the Jim Mora era was making its way back onto the practice field. There was a flag thrown for defensive encroachment during the 11-on-11 session. There was another play which wasn’t flagged where there was clearly defensive pass interference. I also noticed early that an offensive player moved early on one play. Hopefully, this is not indicative of a trend.

Demetric Felton and JJ Molson were the two players interviewed yesterday after practice. Thanks to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News for sharing yesterday’s post-practice videos.

So far...

The Bruins will face Concordia in the semifinals on Thursday.

The UCLA Men’s Volleyball team took care of business quickly tonight against Stanford. The Bruins swept the Cardinal in three sets, 25-19, 25-15, 25-18.

UCLA began the first set by scoring 6 of the first 8 points, grabbing an early 4-point lead. That proved to be enough as the closest Stanford got to tying the set was a 2-point deficit at 7-5 and at 14-12. The Cardinal were only able to score on consecutive points three times in this set and never for more than two points in a row. UCLA outhit Stanford .524 to just .208 as they only made one attack error in the set.

The second set was a little bit of a tougher challenge for the Bruins, at least through the first 14 points, as the teams were tied 7-7. But, then, UCLA rose to the occasion by scoring 5 of the next 6 points to jump ahead 12-8. With the score 15-12, the Bruins went on a big 10-3 run to close out the second set. While the Bruins made 4 attack errors in the set and saw their hitting percentage drop to .278 in this one, Stanford played even worse. The Cardinal had 11 attack errors to just 6 kills for a -.217 hitting percentage.

UCLA used a 5-0 run in the third...