No. 6 USC Drops Five-Set Heartbreaker to Texas A&M|
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LOS ANGELES - The sixth-ranked USC women's volleyball team (6-1) fell in five sets, 25-23, 15-25, 25-27, 25-13, 16-14, to Texas A&M (6-1) in the second match of the USC Classic at Galen Center on Thursday, Sept. 11. The Women of Troy had their six-match season-opening winning streak snapped and surrendered their home opener to the Aggies.
The Trojans got 20 kills (5e, 60att, .250) and 17 digs from junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio. The All-American also added four service aces and a pair of blocks (one solo) to log 25.5 points. It was Bricio's fourth double-double of the season and the 26th of her career. It was also the 21st time in her career that she has recorded at least three service aces in the same match.
Freshman outside hitter Lauryn Gillis notched a double-double as well, her second of the year, with 15 kills (4e, 32att, .344) and 10 digs. She also finished with a service ace and two blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu had 12 kills (5e, 25att, .280) for 12.0 points.
Sophomore setter Alice Pizzasegola posted her second-career double-double with 30 assists and 10 digs. Senior setter Hayley Crone had 24 assists and seven digs as the duo set the Trojans to a .233 hitting percentage in the match (69k, 28e, 176att). Sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham finished the night with a team-high 18 digs.
The Aggies posted a .319 hitting percentage (68k, 15e, 166att) and were paced by Stephanie Aiple's 56 assists. Aiple also logged a pair of service aces and eight digs. Shelby Sullivan had 15 kills and hit .462 while Angela Lowak finished with 15 kills (.176) and 11 digs. Ashlie Reasor had 14 kills (.300) and four blocks while Jazzmin Babers cleaned up with 14 kills and a .583 hitting rate to go with a match-high seven blocks.
While USC opened the match slow, three straight kills including a Bricio terminator on an overpass quickly tied the score at four-all. The Aggies had fight, though, and rolled out to a three-point lead, 11-8, on back-to-back kills from Reasor. An ace by freshman outside hitter Brittany Abercrombie pulled USC into a 12-all tie before two straight Nwanebu kills pushed the Trojans ahead, 15-13, and an ace by Gillis got USC up, 16-14. Texas A&M chipped away at the USC lead until the Trojans were caught at 21-all on another kill by Reasor. USC took one more lead at 22-21 on a kill down the line from Gillis, but the Aggies finished off a 25-23 win on a kill by Lowak. USC hit .220 in the first set with 16 kills (7e) on 41 swings and were outdone by Texas A&M's .395 outing (17k, 2e, 38att).
The teams traded leads and were tied nine times to open the second set before the Trojans built a small two-point lead, 11-9, on Gillis' pipe-shot kill from Pizzasegola. Two straight Texas A&M kills knotted the set for a 10th time at 11-all before the Trojans ran away with the set. Pizzasegola went quick tempo to freshman middle blocker Jordan Dunn for a kill to send Bricio to the back line where she did damage to the tune of 10 straight serves including three service aces. At one point, Bricio served two straight aces coming out of an Aggie timeout to pull the Trojans out to a 19-11 lead. Texas A&M finally broke Bricio's run but only managed to score a few more points before the Women of Troy closed out a 25-15 win to knot the match at one set apiece. USC hit .310 in the second set with 12 kills (3e, 29att) and held the Aggies to a .138 outing with nine kills (5e) on 29 attempts.
What was a rather bleak outlook to start the third set took a turn for the better when the Trojans erased a couple of six-point deficits to come up with a 27-25 win and take a 2-1 lead in the match. The Trojans hit .415 after starting out in a slump and finished with 21 kills (4e) on 41 swings including a seven-kill performance by Gillis. The Aggies were no slouches either as they finished with 19 kills (2e) on 44 attacks for a .386 hitting percentage. USC trailed by six for the last time at 19-13 when senior outside hitter Emily Young stemmed the tide with a crosscourt shot. Her kill sparked a 5-0 USC run that included kills by three different players. The Aggies stopped the bleeding for a moment, but Gillis scored four kills over the course of just six rallies to knot the score at 21-all. Texas A&M grabbed set point first, but Nwanebu saved it with her crosscourt kill before Bricio went sharp on the angle for the kill and a 24-all tie. Young crushed one from the right to give USC set point at 26-25 before Bricio put the last ball down on a set from Gillis.
The Women of Troy couldn't crack the code in the fourth set as Texas A&M ran away with a 25-13 win to force the fifth frame. Gillis' solo block of Reasor closed the gap to three points but A&M kept pressing and went up by six points, 15-9, on a Lowak terminator. Lowak did it again, three out of four rallies, to help the Aggies grab an 18-12 lead. Reasor then went back-to-back to create an eight-point gash, 20-12. The Trojans couldn't generate the offense they needed as A&M completed the win on a big block. The Women of Troy were held to just 10 kills and committed eight errors (38att) in the fourth set to log a .053 hitting percentage while Texas A&M put up 15 kills (3e, 34att) for a .353 hitting rate.
The Trojans struggled to find their rhythm in the fifth set and found themselves down, 10-4, in a hurry. But just like it did in the third, USC fought back, point by point, and was within two at 10-8 when Bricio crushed a pipe set from Pizzasegola for the point. Back-to-back kills by Nwanebu put the Trojans on the doorstep of a tie at 11-10, but it wasn't until Bricio went high off Aggie hands and Young jumped up for a kill off a Bricio set that the Trojans finally knotted the score at 14. For all it went through to come up with the equalizer, USC couldn't complete the job and suffered the 16-14 loss as the Aggies got a kill from Lowak and the Trojans committed the final error of the match.
The Trojans are back in action against No. 10 Florida (4-2) to conclude the USC Classic on Friday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 p.m. PT. The match will be carried by Pac-12 Networks with Anne Marie Anderson and Holly McPeak on the call. Before USC and Florida take the court, Texas A&M and San Diego will match up at 4:30 p.m. PT. The Gators defeated the Toreros in three sets in today's early match.
Fans can purchase tickets for the USC Classic at GetTrojanTix.com or by calling 213-740-GOSC. A special USC Classic Family Pack is available for $40 and includes four tickets for all matches, four Classic T-Shirts, and four Classic Cups, which are good for free refills at Galen Center concession stands throughout the duration of the tournament. 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.