No. 4 Stanford Blocks No. 6 USC's Upset Bid
Oct. 10, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - The sixth-ranked USC women's volleyball team (16-3, 4-3 Pac-12) dropped a three-set decision (25-18, 25-16, 25-18) to No. 4 Stanford (15-2, 7-0) on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at Maples Pavilion. The Women of Troy had their three-match winning streak snapped as the Cardinal put up 13 blocks and dug up 59 balls to hold USC to a season-low .085 hitting percentage in the match.
Junior outside hitter Sara Shaw led all players with 13 kills (5e, 32att, .250), but USC's big pin hitters were each held to negative hitting percentages as the Cardinal keyed on the Trojan's strengths. Freshman outside Samantha Bricio was slowed on the left side with 10 kills and 12 errors (47att, -.043) and senior opposite Katie Fuller was neutralized by the Stanford defense to log six kills (7e, 26att, -.038). Junior libero Natalie Hagglund had 20 digs but it wasn't enough for a Trojan team that had a hard time stopping an efficient Stanford attack.
The Cardinal was led by Brittany Howard's 12-kill performance (0e, 29att, .414) and Inky Ajanaku's 12-kill outing (3e, 17att, .529). Carly Wopat posted seven kills (1e, 15att, .400) and led all players with seven blocks while Jordan Burgess added seven kills (0e, 15att, .467) and 19 digs. Kyle Gilbert frustrated USC attackers all night as she led all players with 22 digs. Stanford posted a .350 hitting rate in the match with 44 kills (9e) on just 100 swings.
USC led by two points, 13-11, when freshman middle blocker Alicia Ogoms went up to knock down a back-row offering from Rachel Williams, but that was the largest first-set lead the Trojans would hold. Later, a kill by Ogoms gave USC a 16-15 lead, but Ajanaku tied the score for a seventh time at 16-all to start a 7-0 Stanford run. Bricio went cross-court for a kill to stop the Cardinal run, but the damage was done. Stanford logged its eighth block of the first frame to stop a Bricio roll shot and claimed set-point at 24-17. Fuller's line shot saved one set point, but Wopat stepped out for a kill on a slide play to lock up a 25-18 win for the Cardinal in the first set. Stanford had 13 kills (3e, 37att) and hit .270 in the first set while the Trojans were held to a .000 outing with 12 kills and 12 errors (49att).
The Cardinal turned on the jets in the second set and never trailed to claim a 25-16 win in the second set. Stanford pulled out to a 10-3 lead when Wopat sent a shot down the line and led by as many as 11 points on three occasions. The Cardinal grabbed set point at 24-16 when Howard knocked a shot off the Trojan block. She followed that play by earning a cross-court kill for the set victory. The Cardinal posted a .324 hitting percentage in the second with 16 kills (4e) on 37 swings while USC struggled against the Stanford block with 10 kills (6e, 45att) for a .089 hitting rate.
Bricio tooled the Stanford block and earned a solo block against Ajanaku on back-to-back plays to flip USC's 7-6 deficit into an 8-7 lead, but the Cardinal won the next seven rallies to lead, 14-8, in the third set. Junior middle blocker Alexis Olgard took a quick set from sophomore setter Hayley Crone and sent it to the back corner of the Cardinal side of the net to break that run, and connected on another shot to make the score 15-10, Stanford. USC earned three straight kills to cut into the Cardinal lead and trailed, 19-16, when Crone dumped her pass for a kill. The Cardinal was unfazed, however, as it allowed just two more points before Williams went down the line for a kill and the 25-18 win. Stanford posted 15 kills (2e, 26att) for a .500 hitting percentage. USC had its best offensive output of the match with 15 kills (8e, 36att) for a .194 rate in the third set.
The Trojans have an off day between matches and will face California (9-7, 3-3) at 8 p.m. PT on Friday, Oct. 12, at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. Fans can watch the USC-Cal match on Pac-12 Networks with Krista Blunk and Kelli Tennant on the call. Please visit www.USCTrojans.com for more information.