SAN DIEGO — The Aztec magic returned to Peterson Gym Wednesday night as San Diego State's women's volleyball team rallied to defeat UCLA, 10-15, 14-16, 15-13, 15-13, 15-13, in front of 1,876 in a nonconference match.
The Aztecs (36-5), who had won 23 straight matches to start the season and were ranked No. 1 most of the year, had lost three of their last four matches and dropped to No. 3 in the national rankings.
"We were playing like we were earlier in the year," said Aztec Coach Rudy Suwara. "I think we are out of our slump. I thought they had a lot of character, they really hung in there."
It was the second time this season SDSU had rallied to beat the Bruins in five games. The Aztecs are 9-1 in five-game matches this season.
"I think it was just determination," said SDSU middle blocker Renee Pankopf. "If there was any team I wanted us to do this to, UCLA was it. If we have any rival, that is the one."
The match was not without controversy.
With UCLA serving and the score tied, 11-11, in the final game, an Aztec dink went over the net and dropped out of bounds. The Aztecs claimed the ball touched a UCLA player. The linesman said he could not see the play because players has obscured his view.
Officials changed the call three times. First, the official decided to replay the point. Then UCLA was awarded the point. Finally, the point was replayed.
The Aztecs then scored three straight to take a 14-11 lead, but not before UCLA Coach Andy Banakowski received a yellow card for arguing.
UCLA scored twice to cut the lead to 14-13, but SDSU completed the comeback with a kill by Pankopf and Sally Larsen.
Sixth-ranked UCLA (24-8) looked as if it would not let the Aztecs get to a fifth game.
SDSU led 10-8 in the first game, before UCLA rallied to score the next six points behind the hitting of Wendy Fletcher and Stacy Buck.
The Aztecs again led in the second game, but could not close it out. With SDSU leading 13-11, the Bruins rallied behind two kills by Fletcher, who led both teams with 29 kills.
The Aztecs took a 14-13 lead on a kill by Pankopf, but Fletcher scored a cross-court kill for a side out. A service ace by Ann Boyer, from Poway High School, and a kill by Sharyl Bilas gave UCLA the lead, 15-14.
A hitting error by the Aztecs' Larsen gave UCLA a 2-0 lead.
Then the Aztecs rallied.
A bad set by Boyer resulted in a UCLA hitting error that gave the Aztecs the third game.
UCLA led 12-9 in game four, but the Aztecs came back, scoring on kills by Jackie Mendez and Kim Harsch to pull even. A kill by Buck gave the Bruins a 13-12 lead.
But Larsen, who had nine blocks in the match, and Kris Morton combined for a block and Harsch hit one of her four service aces to win the fourth game.
Morton led the Aztecs with 23 kills 14 blocks.