No. 3 USC Bounces Bruins in Three-Set Pac-12 Opener|
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Sept. 23, 2015
LOS ANGELES -- The third-ranked USC women's volleyball team (13-0, 1-0 Pac-12) fired the first shot in the battle for the BMW Crosstown Cup on Wednesday, Sept. 23, as the Women of Troy defeated No. 13 UCLA (9-2, 0-1) at Pauley Pavilion in three sets, 25-22, 25-12, 25-19. It was the Trojans' 11th straight-set sweep of the season and moved USC to 13-0 to start a season for the fifth time in 15 seasons under the direction of head coach Mick Haley.
USC earned five points towards the BMW Crosstown Cup, an annual competition between to the two rival colleges for sports supremacy in the city of Los Angeles. Freshman outside hitter Alyse Ford had the hot hand for the Women of Troy as she led the team with 11 kills (5e, 23att, .261). Senior outside hitter Samantha Bricio picked up 10 kills (5e, 33att, .152) and had four digs to go with a service ace and four blocks (two solo).
At the middle blocker position, junior Elise Ruddins had eight kills (2e, 12att, .500) to go with a service ace and four blocks. Senior Alicia Ogoms added five kills (1e, 10att, .400) and five blocks.
The Trojans hit .267 (43k, 16e, 101att) and put up 11.0 blocks to hold the Bruins to a .056 hitting rate (27k, 21e, 108att). Freshman setter Baylee Johnson had another all-around performance with four kills, 18 assists, eight digs, and a pair of blocks. Junior setter Alice Pizzasegola added 16 assists and five digs. Junior libero Taylor Whittingham collected 15 digs to lead all players and added five assists and a service ace. Freshman defender Victoria Garrick had eight digs and served a pair of aces including for the final point of the match.
For UCLA, Haley Lawless shared the team lead with seven kills (4e, 24att, .125). Jordan Anderson also had seven kills (5e, 26att, .077). Reily Buechler had six kills (8e, 31att) but hit negative .065 and Claire Felix had six kills (3e, 15att, .200). The Bruins had seven blocks as a team and were set by freshman Zana Muno who had 17 assists and nine digs.
The Trojans never trailed in the match and were only tied twice: once in the first set and once in the second. USC rolled out to a 10-3 lead in the opening frame as Bricio crushed a shot crosscourt for the point. Ford scored three of the Trojans' final points on big kills, but UCLA never gave up and clawed to within two points at 23-21 when Karly Drolson served an ace. Following a timeout, the Trojans completed a 25-22 win with kills from Ford and Ruddins.
USC dominated the second set and got in front by five early, 8-3, as Bricio stuffed an attack by Felix. The Bruins' bid to close the gap was stifled at 9-7 as three straight UCLA errors gave the Trojans a 12-7 lead. The Women of Troy were unrelenting and used that momentum to build a 12-point lead at 21-9 as Bricio rolled a shot to the floor out of the back row. UCLA scored a couple more points, but Ruddins and Bricio scored on back-to-back kills before they teamed to block Felix and completed USC's 25-12 victory in set two.
A furious rally opened the third, but sophomore opposite hitter Brittany Abercrombie put a stop to the madness when she tooled the Bruin block to open up the set with one of her five kills. The Trojans seized the moment and went up, 5-1, as Bricio served an ace. USC led by nine, 14-5, but like they did in the first set, the Bruins fought their way back into contention and trailed by just three at 16-13 on a kill by Lawless. The Women of Troy showed their mettle and earned three straight points on kills from Ogoms, Ford, and Abercrombie before Whittingham's service ace pulled USC out to an eight-point lead at 22-14. UCLA had a couple more points to score but Ruddins set USC up with match point at 24-19 before Garrick sealed the deal with her ace.
USC remains on the road and will head up to the Bay Area to face No. 8-ranked defending Pac-12 champion Stanford (7-2, 1-0) at Maples Pavilion on Sunday, Sept. 27. The Trojans and the Cardinal will take the court for a 4 p.m. PT match that will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks with Anne Marie Anderson and former USC beach volleyball volunteer assistant coach Dain Blanton on the call.
To purchase season or single-match tickets for USC home matches, visit GetTrojanTix.com or call (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, Instagram, and Periscope.