Bruins end finals drought

UCLA's Lainey Gera dives for the ball as teammates Mariana Aquino (left) and Lauren Van Orden look on during the Bruins' win in the national semifinals.

SAN ANTONIO — UCLA is finally back in the finals.

Junior outside hitter Rachael Kidder had 21 kills and the Bruins advanced to their first national championship match since 1994, sweeping newcomer Florida State in the NCAA semifinals Thursday night.

Tabi Love added 12 kills for the Bruins in the 25-16, 25-17, 25-21 victory. They’ll play the winner of Thursday’s late match between Southern California and Illinois in Saturday’s championship.

Seventeen years is a long drought for a program like UCLA. The Bruins (29-6) have three titles, tied for third all-time, and four runner-up finishes. But UCLA was making just its first semis appearance since 2006.

“It feels great. I think most of us, when we decided to come to UCLA, knew that the program’s been really good in the past,” Kidder said. “And I know when I came in, I was really looking forward to turning it around hopefully. That was the goal.”

The Seminoles (28-7) never led in the first two sets during their first semifinals appearance in history.

There will be a new champion for the first time since 2006. Four-time defending champ Penn State was eliminated by the Bruins last week.

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