Offering further proof that it has arrived as an elite program in women's college soccer, UCLA will try to win its first NCAA title in its third College Cup appearance in five years.
The Bruins play Princeton today at 11 a.m. PST in a national semifinal match at the SAS Soccer Complex in Cary, N.C. The other semifinal pits Notre Dame against Santa Clara and will follow the UCLA match.
UCLA's previous two trips to the College Cup ended in losses to North Carolina in the 2000 championship match and the 2003 semifinals.
North Carolina, 17-time champion, was ousted by Santa Clara in the third round of this year's playoffs and will miss the College Cup for the first time since the tournament began in 1982. UCLA advanced with a 1-0 quarterfinal-round victory over Ohio State.
"Once you get yourself down to that point, then it just comes down to executing," UCLA Coach Jillian Ellis said. "The hurdle is over as far as getting there."
Sophomore Bristyn Davis leads the Bruins with 13 goals and has assisted on six others. Freshman Danesha Adams, who has 11 goals, has been the offensive star of the tournament with two goals against San Diego in the second round and one against Duke in the third round.
Princeton (19-2-0) became the first Ivy League school to reach the NCAA semifinals after defeating Washington, 3-1, last week. Junior Emily Behncke has scored four goals in four tournament matches.
The matchup will feature a reunion of best friends in UCLA's Ellis and Princeton Coach Julie Shackford. The two, who talk on the telephone every week, were stars at rival high schools in Virginia before becoming All-American teammates at William and Mary in the late 1980s.
"People ask me will it be hard to play against her," Ellis said. "I say no. When you play someone you respect so much, you just let your teams decide it."
-- Eric Stephens
Bibiana Candelas had 16 kills and a .438 hitting percentage to lead the host USC women's volleyball team to a 30-22, 30-24, 30-23 victory over College of Charleston at the Lyon Center in a first-round NCAA tournament match.
Keao Burdine and Emily Adams each had 11 kills for the Trojans (20-5), who advanced to face Kansas State in a second-round match tonight at 7.
Earlier, Vali Hejjas had 17 kills to lead Kansas State to a 30-20, 30-23, 30-25 victory over Cal State Northridge.
In first-round volleyball matches tonight, UCLA will play host to a four-team regional. The Bruins will take on Loyola Marymount at 8 p.m. The first match will be Long Beach State against Utah at 5:30.
In other first-round regionals tonight involving local teams, UC Irvine will face Arizona at San Diego at 6, and UC Santa Barbara will take on Alabama A&M at Atlanta at 4 PST.