No. 6 USC Flies By Bluejays For Fifth Straight Win|
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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The sixth-ranked USC women's volleyball team (5-0) extended its season-opening winning streak to five matches with a four-set win (22-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-18) over Creighton (3-2) in the Commonwealth Classic at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, Sept. 6. The Women of Troy were led again by junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio who produced her third double-double in four matches with 13 kills (2e, 36att, .306) and 15 digs. Bricio also had two service aces and three blocks (one solo) to finish with a match-high 17.0 points.
Sophomore outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu came up big with a 14-kill outing (1e, 27att) and hit .481 in the match. She also added an ace, five digs, and two blocks. The Trojans got 10.0 points from freshman outside hitter Brittany Abercrombie who finished with seven kills (4e, 15att, .200), an ace, and four blocks.
Defensively, USC put up 69 digs to Creighton's 60 and out-blocked the Bluejays, 12.0-3.0. Sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham finished with a career-high 15 digs to match Bricio's output while freshman outside hitter Lauryn Gillis had 12 digs. Gillis also had eight kills (4e, 23att, .174) and a pair of blocks on her final line. At the net, junior middle blocker Alicia Ogoms tallied five kills (1e, 12att) and hit .333 but was once again the defensive catalyst for USC as she finished with seven blocks (one solo).
The Women of Troy completed the match with a .306 hitting mark on 55 kills (14e, 134att) thanks to the work of senior setter Hayley Crone, who dished out 24 assists to go with eight digs, and sophomore setter Alice Pizzasegola, who put up 22 assists and had five digs.
The Bluejays were led by Kelli Browning's 13 kills (3e, 33att, .303) who did much of her damage on the slide. Maggie Baumert added four kills (1e, 10att, .300) and led the team with 34 assists and 11 digs. Marysa Wilkinson had nine kills (5e, 23att, .174) and Melanie Jereb finished with eight kills (3e, 38att, .132) and nine digs for Creighton.
In an all-out battle for the first set, Creighton came up with the right plays at the right time to seal a 25-22 win. The Trojans held the first sizable lead of the set at 12-9 when Ogoms knocked down an overpassed ball. It didn't take long for the Bluejays to swoop back in and tie the score for a fourth time at 14 on a kill by Lauren Smith. USC used a 4-0 run that culminated in Bricio's second ace of the set to lead, 20-18, but Creighton continued to fight and tied the score at 21-all on a tip kill by Browning. USC scored just one more point, but on a Bluejay service error, before Browning slid out for the final point of the set. The Trojans hit .140 in the first frame with 12 kills (6e) on 43 attacks but also committed four service errors and were aced twice. Creighton finished with a .200 hitting rate (13k, 5e) on 40 swings.
USC came out much improved in the second set, never trailed, and finished with a .444 hitting percentage (14k, 2e, 27att) to claim a 25-18 win. The Trojans put up five blocks to keep the Bluejays down at .139 hitting (12k, 7e, 36att). The Women of Troy pulled out to a 10-5 lead when Gillis and Ogoms teamed up to stuff a shot by Wilkinson and went up by seven at 21-14 when Crone set Bricio who tipped a back-row shot to the ground. Creighton made a small push, but USC wouldn't bend and claimed set point at 24-17 on a kill by Abercrombie. The Bluejays won one more rally before Crone put up a one-handed set for Ogoms who crushed the final ball of the set to the floor.
The Women of Troy were all business in the third set and cruised a quick 5-2 lead when Bricio bounced a cut shot inside the 10-foot line. USC went up, 10-5, when Pizzasegola set senior middle blocker Hannah Schraer a quick ball for the kill; and Abercrombie tooled the Bluejay block to push the Trojans' lead to 15-10. But Creighton hung around to pull within four points at 18-14 when Browning scored again on the slide. Pizzasegola's quick set to freshman middle blocker Jordan Dunn yielded the first of five straight Trojan kills. Nwanebu tipped her next shot softly over a double block before she went crosscourt to terminate the next rally. Gillis scored the next point, and then Nwanebu crushed another shot to the ground for a 23-14 lead. Browning stopped the 5-0 USC run with her kill but Nwanebu came right back and bounced another shot for set point before she hit the back line to close out the 25-15 win. USC hit .351 in the third set with 16 kills (3e) on 37 swings. Creighton had 10 kills (6e) on 41 attacks for a .098 rate.
USC and Creighton traded barbs to open up a tight fourth set, but Nwanebu went crosscourt for a kill to tie the score at nine before she served up an ace to give the Trojans the last lead of the match. The Bluejays got no closer than a single point at 11-10 before USC staved them off for a 25-18 win. The Women of Troy went up by five, 20-15, on a service ace by freshman outside hitter Taylor Wheatley and took a six-point lead at 23-17 on a crosscourt kill from Abercrombie. Creighton earned one last point from Browning before Dunn put a quick set from Pizzasegola to the floor and Abercrombie tooled the Bluejay block to seal the victory. USC hit .370 with 13 kills (3e, 37att) in the final set and held Creighton to 11 kills on 32 swings (5e) for a .188 hitting percentage.
The Women of Troy will conclude the Commonwealth Classic with a 5:30 p.m. ET match against Northern Iowa (2-3). For more information on the USC women's volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCWomensVolley on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.