No. 4 USC Breaks Down No. 11 Bruins For Four-Set Victory
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Sept. 25, 2013
LOS ANGELES - In the 100th rivalry meeting between USC and UCLA, the fourth-ranked Women of Troy (11-1, 1-0 Pac-12) earned a four-set win (25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 25-16) over the 11th-ranked Bruins (9-2, 0-1) at Galen Center on Wednesday, Sept. 25. The Trojans won their fifth consecutive match and improved to 10-3 in conference openers under head coach Mick Haley.
The victory was USC's fifth in the last seven meetings with UCLA and was the Trojans' 13th straight home win. The Women of Troy improved to 97-10 (.907) in all-time matches at the Galen Center (5-2 vs. UCLA) and are now 21-18 in all-time home matches against the Bruins.
Freshman outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu acted as the catalyst for USC's incredible 9-1 run in the fourth set that sealed the Bruins' fate. Nwanebu completed the evening with a career-best 17 kills (4e, 31att, 18.0 points) and posted a .419 hitting percentage. The Trojans were able to effectively run their middle attack against the UCLA defense and senior Alexis Olgard feasted as she came up with a career-high 13 kills (1e, 22att, .545) and added six blocks to match a career best with 16.0 points.
USC also got nine kills from sophomore outside hitter Samantha Bricio who added two service aces and six digs. Senior outside Sara Shaw had seven kills and a pair of service aces to go with three blocks. Junior middle blocker Hannah Schraer chipped in seven kills (0e, 12att, .583) and had three blocks while junior outside Emily Young had six kills (.231) and three blocks.
Defensively, All-America senior libero Natalie Hagglund put up 20 digs and picked up five assists on the night. USC's setters were toe-to-toe on the stat sheet as junior Hayley Crone dished out 27 assists to go with seven digs and a service ace and freshman Alice Pizzasegola had 26 assists with three digs and an ace.
For the Bruins, Karsta Lowe led the way with 15 kills (7e, 30att, .267) while Kelly Reeves put up eight kills (3e, 31att, .161) and led UCLA with 14 digs. Claire Felix was efficient on the slide as she came up with 12 kills (2e, 20att) to hit .500 in the match and added seven digs and three blocks. In the middle, Zoe Nightingale had nine kills (1e, 16att, .500).
The first set saw 16 ties and five lead changes before the Trojans pulled out a 25-23 win. UCLA led, 14-12, when Olgard crushed a quick set to the ground for a point and Shaw served up her first ace to pull the score into its 10th tie at 14-all. USC went ahead a couple of times and claimed a 19-18 lead when Shaw stuffed Lowe's attack at the net. USC held a brief two-point lead at 20-18, but Mariana Aquino earned a kill to tie the score at 20-all. Young tooled the block to push the Trojans ahead, 22-21, followed by another quick-set kill from Olgard to force a UCLA timeout. Young's kill gave USC set point at 24-22 but the Bruins saved one as Felix earned a point on a slide. Reeves' final offering went long to seal the first set USC. The Trojans came out firing and put up a .424 hitting percentage with 15 kills (1e) on 33 attacks. They needed to be efficient as the Bruins put up 20 kills (6e) on 37 swings for a .378 hitting rate.
The Bruins grabbed the first lead of the second set and went up by as many as three points before the Trojans were able to knot the score at seven-all on a kill from Young. USC claimed its first lead of the set at 10-9 when Bricio and Schraer came together to block Maddy Klineman's attack but UCLA stayed close and reclaimed the lead at 16-15 on a kill by Felix. USC used a kill from Olgard, an ace by Shaw, and a kill by Young to climb in front, 18-16, but still the Bruins had an answer. A UCLA block helped it secure the set's 10th tie score at 21-all, but Nwanebu tooled the Bruin block for a 22-21 win and then got another kill to give USC set point at 24-21. UCLA saved one set point, but Shaw put down the final kill of the set for a 25-22 win and a 2-0 Trojan lead in the match. USC had 17 kills (6e, 38att) for a .289 hitting percentage in the second frame and just edged UCLA's .258 hitting rate (13k, 5e, 31att).
The teams played tug-of-war to open the third stanza until Bricio earned four kills through the span of six rallies to get USC a 10-9 lead. The Trojans seemed to control the tempo and held a four-point lead at 13-9 when Nwanebu bounced a shot off the floor. Later, Nwanebu went down the line to score the Trojans a 15-11 lead, but the Bruins never stopped fighting and came up with an 18-all tie and a 20-19 lead when Reeves earned a kill on a tip. It was a quick race to a 25-21 win for UCLA as it earned kills on four of the final six rallies. USC struggled against the Bruin block, which posted four blocks, to post a .174 hitting percentage in the third set (16k, 8e, 46att) while UCLA rarely committed an error for 16 kills (1e) on 35 swings and a .429 hitting rate.
Though the teams saw seven ties in the fourth set, it provided far less drama than the first three as USC raced out to a 25-16 win capped off by Schraer's kill off a set from Pizzasegola. Nightingale tipped a ball to the floor for a kill and tied the score at six-all before the Trojans racked up the next three points to lead, 9-6, when Crone served up an ace. The Bruins had one last burst to score three in a row and knot the score at nine when Reeves aced Bricio. The Trojans then replied by scoring the next three points sparked by Nwanebu's off-speed kill and a pair of big blocks. Up, 12-9, USC put the pedal to the metal and got four kills and a block from Nwanebu to come up with a 20-12 lead. The Trojan run was 9-1 and got USC a 10-point lead at 24-14. UCLA saved a pair of match points, but Schraer earned the final point to seal USC's 3-1 victory. The Trojans hit .276 in the fourth set (13k, 5e, 29att) and put up five blocks to hold the Bruins to a negative .029 hitting rate with nine kills and 10 errors on 34 swings.
USC is back in action and will play its first conference road match at Utah (12-1, 1-0 Pac-12) in the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m. MT. Please visit USCTrojans.com for more information and links to live stats. The match will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks regionally with Anne Marie Anderson and Tammy Blackburn on the call.