No. 2 USC Fends Off California In Five-Setter for Eighth Straight Victory
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Oct. 6, 2013
LOS ANGELES - For the sixth time in eight meetings at the Galen Center, the USC women's volleyball team (14-1, 4-0 Pac-12) went to five sets with California (9-4, 2-2). Thanks to a complete team effort, the Women of Troy came out on top with a 3-2 win (28-26, 22-25, 25-11, 18-25, 15-13) for their eighth straight victory. The Trojans beat the Golden Bears for the fifth straight time as freshman outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu came through with a career-best 21 kills (4e, 37att) as she hit .459 in the match. Nwanebu added five blocks to her final line to finish with 23.5 points.
Sophomore outside hitter Samantha Bricio posted 16 kills (6e, 49att, .204) and had two service aces and a block for 18.5 points. She also put up 10 digs to post her second double-double of the season; the 13th of her career. Senior middle blocker Alexis Olgard put up a career-high 15 kills (1e, 25att) and was the model of efficiency as she logged a .560 hitting percentage. Olgard led all players with eight blocks (one solo) for 19.5 points.
Senior outside hitter Sara Shaw earned her third double-double of the year (11th of her career) with 13 kills (2e, 35att, .314) and 12 digs. Shaw also had five blocks (two solo) to finish with 16.5 points in the match. USC also got six kills from junior outside Emily Young and four from junior middle Hannah Schraer.
USC's setters had the Trojan offense running to the tune of a .318 hitting percentage (76k, 20e, 176att) as junior Hayley Crone put up 36 assists and freshman Alice Pizzasegola finished with 30. Senior libero Natalie Hagglund dug up 28 balls on the evening for her 13th double-digit digs performance of the season.
For the Bears, senior Adrienne Gehan led the way with 22 kills (14e, 63att, .127) and had 12 digs. Junior Christina Higgins chipped in with 15 kills (5e, 29att, .345) and did most of her damage in the final two sets. Middle hitter Lillian Schonewise put up 11 kills (4e, 25att, .280) and had three blocks for Cal while setter Joan Caloiaro had 61 assists and eight digs in the match.
The teams tussled at the outset of the first set, but USC built at four-point lead, 12-8, when Schraer connected with Crone's set on a slide play and Shaw went up alone to reject Schonewise's attack. The Trojans didn't hold their lead long as the Bears roared back to tie the score for a fifth time at 16 all on a kill by Schonewise. USC went back ahead by two on successive kills by Bricio and Nwanebu, but Cal stayed close until Bricio went through the Bear block for a point and a 24-21 USC lead. Cal had one more push in it and tied the score at 24-all when Gehan terminated out of the back row. Gehan went off Trojan hands for another point and put the Bears ahead, 26-25, but USC fought out the final three points as Nwanebu earned consecutive kills before Bricio served up an ace to close out a 28-26 win. The Trojans hit .306 in the opening frame (21k, 6e, 49att) and held the Bears to a .225 outing (15k, 6e, 40att).
Neither team could string together more than three points at a time to start the second set, but the Trojans came up with a 10-8 lead on a kill by Shaw. Just two rallies later, the Bears tied the score for the ninth time at 11-all with a block. Cal came up with another block to break a 13-all tie and built a 21-18 lead on the Bears' fifth block of the set. Shaw went off hands to get USC within two at 22-20, but Higgins came flying in for a crosscourt kill that put Cal up, 23-20. Schonewise's kill gave the Bears set point at 24-21 and while Bricio's tool-shot saved one, Schonewise came up with another kill to end the score, 25-22. The Bears attacked at a .323 rate (15k, 5e, 31att) while USC was just a shade behind at .294 (16k, 6e, 34att). The Trojans hurt themselves in the serving game with four errors in the second set.
USC rolled out to a three-point lead in the third set when Olgard connected with a quick set from Crone for a kill. The Trojans led by three again at 9-6 when Bricio uncorked one for a crosscourt kill and went ahead by eight points, 16-8, when Olgard crushed an overpassed ball to the ground. Nwanebu and Olgard teamed up to stuff Gehan's attack for a 17-8 lead that forced a Cal timeout. USC didn't let up out of the break and went up by 10, 20-10, when Shaw's cut shot earned a kill. Young notched a kill followed by another by Olgard who knocked down an overpassed dig for a 24-10 lead. Cal saved one of 14 set points, but served long on the final play of the set to seal a 25-11 USC win. The Trojans were unconscionable in the third frame as they logged a .484 hitting percentage with 16 kills (31att) and just one error. Cal struggled to score and finished with just seven kills (5e) on 26 swings for a .077 hitting rate.
USC held an early 6-4 lead in the fourth set when Bricio tipped a ball to the floor for a point, but the Bears quickly erased that lead and went ahead, 7-6, on a kill by Gehan. Cal continued to roll and opened up a four-point lead at 17-13 when Caloiaro dumped her pass for a kill. The Trojans fought to stay within striking distance but got only as close as five points when Nwanebu's kill made the score 22-17. Nwanebu's kill stemmed the tide at 23-18 as well, but the Bears earned the final point of a 25-18 win to push the match to five sets. USC had 13 kills (7e, 46att) for a .130 hitting percentage in the fourth frame while the Bears enjoyed a .308 rate with 17 kills (5e, 39att).
The Trojans went up by four points in the final set when Shaw tooled her shot off the Bear block and Bricio blasted a shot down the line. Cal fought to stay in the set, but Nwanebu's kill made the score 11-7. Nwanebu scored USC's next two points to keep the Trojans ahead by four at 12-8 and Shaw went crosscourt for a kill to supply a 13-9 lead. A Trojan error followed by a kill from Higgins pulled Cal to within two points at 13-11. Higgins went on to score three straight to knot the set at 13 all, but Olgard stopped the bleeding when she terminated on a quick set from Pizzasegola to put the Trojans up, 14-13 before she and Bricio got up to stuff Cal's final attack from Gehan to secure the 15-13 win in the final frame. USC hit .625 in the fifth set with 10 kills and no errors on 16 swings while the Bears had 11 kills (5e, 24att) and a .250 rate.
The Trojans are back in action with the first of four straight road matches and play at Oregon State (9-6, 0-4 Pac-12) at 6 p.m. PT on Friday, Oct. 11, at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore. The USC-OSU match will be carried live on he Pac-12 Networks with Paul Sunderland and Kelli Tennant on the broadcast. Please visit USCTrojans.com for more information and a complete schedule.