No. 9 USC Upended By No. 20 UCLA|
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LOS ANGELES – The ninth-ranked USC women’s volleyball team (7-4, 0-1 Pac-12) dropped a tough three-set loss (25-23, 25-13, 27-25) to its crosstown rival No. 20 UCLA (10-2, 1-0) on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the Galen Center. The Women of Troy suffered their fourth loss in five matches and are still in search of their first home victory this season.
Junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio led the Trojans with 12.5 points on 12 kills (5e, 30att, .233) and had five digs. Sophomore outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu had six kills (4e, 28att, .071) as did freshman outside hitter Lauryn Gillis (6k, 2e, 14att, .286). Defensively, USC had eight team blocks and got four blocks apiece from Nwanebu, junior middle blocker Alicia Ogoms, and freshman middle blocker Jordan Dunn. Sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham had 10 digs.
UCLA relied heavily on its main weapon Karsta Lowe, who finished with 22 kills (7e, 42att) and a .357 hitting percentage. Reily Buechler added 10 kills (2e, 23att) with a .348 hitting night. Setter Julie Consani dished out 39 assists and helped the Bruins post a .291 hitting percentage in the match. Taylor Formico led all players with 12 digs.
In a tug-of-war first set, the teams were tied 16 times and exchanged leads five times before the Bruins prevailed with a 25-23 win on Lowe’s fifth kill of the frame. The Trojans held their last lead at 18-17 when senior outside hitter Emily Young went up to dump a set off a Gillis dig, but the Bruins tied it up on the next rally and pushed to get a three-point lead at 23-20 and then took set point on a kill from Olga Strantzali. USC saved one point but were done in by Lowe on the final rally. USC hit .206 in the first with 14 kills (7e, 34att) and UCLA had a .235 hitting rate with 13 kills (5e, 34att).
The Bruins ran away with the second set and had built a five-point lead at 11-6 on back-to-back kills from Lowe and Buechler. The Trojans got stuck against the UCLA serve and found themselves down by nine points, 16-7, before Bricio’s kill stopped the bleeding. The Bruins went right back to work and opened up an 11-point gash at 19-8 on another kill by Buechler. UCLA stayed its distance and finished out a 25-13 win to go up, 2-0, in the match. USC hit .207 in the second set with 10 kills (4e, 29att) while UCLA finished with 14 kills (2e, 22att) and a .545 hitting percentage.
It appeared the Bruins were going to run away with the third set when they went ahead by seven points three times, the last time at 20-13 on a crosscourt kill from Buechler, but Young came in and set the Trojans on the right path as she found Gillis for a crosscourt kill that sparked the USC run. Two straight UCLA errors, and a kill by Dunn on an overpass brought the Trojans within three at 20-17, but the Bruins pulled out to a five-point lead at 22-17 on back-to-back kills. USC wasn’t fazed as it scored the next four with two kills from Bricio, a big block, and a service ace from freshman outside hitter Taylor Wheatley. Lowe killed the Trojan rally from out of the back row, but USC continued to play tough defense and tied the score at 24-all before Ogoms knocked down an overpass for a Trojan set-point at 25-24. UCLA went back to its bread and butter and earned three straight kills, two from Lowe and one from Buechler, to end the match. USC put up 12 kills in the final set with a .171 hitting percentage (6e, 35att) while the Bruins earned 20 kills (10e, 47att, .213).
USC’s schedule gets no easier as No. 19 Arizona State (10-2) visits Galen Center on Friday, Sept. 26, for a 6 p.m. PT match that will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks. Fans can purchase tickets at GetTrojanTix.com or by calling 213-740-GOSC. 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.