UCLA sweeps Pacific for NCAA title

COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK -- It was obvious from the start that UCLA was the team with a mission. That it had the better athletes was also readily apparent to a Cole Field House crowd of 5,314 last night.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association women's volleyball championship was billed as a battle between two hard-hitting teams, and although Pacific had a couple of brief flurries, it was never really in the match, as UCLA took 1 hour, 15 minutes to overwhelm the Tigers, 15-9, 15-12, 15-7.


The result extended UCLA's winning streak to 33 games in a 36-1 season, the loss coming against Nebraska in Hawaii in early September. Pacific ended with a mark of 30-7.

The champions placed four players on the all-tournament team, headed by Most Outstanding Player Natalie Williams. She was joined by teammates Marissa Hatchett, Jenny Evans and Holly McPeak. The others were Krissy Fifer of Pacific and Monique Adams of Louisiana State University.


"We had a great start and set the tempo," UCLA coach Andy Banachowski said, savoring a second NCAA title and sixth overall (four Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women crowns). "I thought we'd play better against them this time."

Where it took the Bruins five games to subdue Pacific in a regular-season meeting, this one was over almost as soon as it started.

The Bruins' twin towers, 6-foot-1 sophomores Hatchett and Williams, dominated play from the outset in the first game with their blocks and kills.

In the process, the Westwood team used three scoring bursts to build a 14-9 lead.

Pacific mounted an early challenge in the second game, gaining an advantage of 5-4, before UCLA took charge, running off five straight points.

The score was 12-8 when Fifer, who doesn't start but is the most electrifying of the Tigers with her slam-dunk kills, re-entered the lineup. Three straight kills picked up two points and got the ball back for Pacific.

The Stockton, Calif., team got a tie at 12, before the Bruins ran out the last three points, getting the final one when an attempted kill by Katy Eldridge carried over the back line.

In the decisive third game, UCLA made sure it did not get away, rolling up a 6-0 advantage. From 9-1, the Tigers rallied with four straight points, but it was a last hurrah, as well-balanced UCLA quickly made it 13-5, and it was all but official.


NOTES: Pacific went into the match with an NCAA tournament record of 27-9, with UCLA at 25-9. . . . The two are among six schools which have participated in each of the 10 national tournaments. The others are Hawaii, Penn State, Stanford and University of California-Santa Barbara. . . . Of those 10 appearances, UCLA has been in the Final Four seven times, winning the title in 1984. Over the last three seasons, UCLA was ranked No. 1 each time, posting successive regular-season records of 34-0, 27-2 and 31-1. . . . UCLA and Pacific met in the final regular-season match for both, with UCLA winning, 15-9, in the fifth game.