Trojans Edged by Huskies in Five-Set NCAA Regional Final|
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Dec. 14, 2013
LOS ANGELES - The sixth-seeded USC women’s volleyball team (29-6) fell in a five-set heartbreaker (26-28, 23-25, 25-22, 25-18, 17-15) to No. 3 seed Washington (30-2) in the Los Angeles Regional Final of the 2013 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship at Galen Center on Saturday, Dec. 14.
The Women of Troy won the first two sets following back-and-forth exchanges that included 24 tie scores and seven lead changes, but the Huskies came out of the break and turned the tables on the Trojans to gain momentum heading into a fifth frame. USC had match point two times but couldn’t seal the deal as Washington recorded the final three points to complete a 17-15 win and claim the final spot in the national semifinals.
Appearing in their fourth straight NCAA regional final, the Trojans received a performance for the ages from freshman outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu as she recorded a career-best 30 kills without a single error on 53 attacks for an astronomical .566 hitting percentage. Nwanebu put up 31.0 points with a pair of block assists.
Following a one-match absence, senior middle blocker Alexis Olgard led all players with eight blocks (three solo) and added nine kills (0e, 15att, .600) for 14.5 points. The most prolific libero in program history, senior Natalie Hagglund put up the 11th 30-dig match of her career to lead the Trojans and added four assists. Senior outside Sara Shaw contributed nine kills (5e, 44att, .091) to go with 15 digs.
Sophomore outside hitter Samantha Bricio posted 13.0 points on 13 kills (8e, 50att, .100) and had 20 digs while freshman outside hitter Elise Ruddins added eight kills (5e, 37att, .081) with three blocks. The Trojans were out-hit for just the fourth time in 35 matches (.267-.263) despite the efforts of setters Hayley Crone (36 assists, nine digs) and Alice Pizzasegola (30 assists, 10 digs) who had the second double-double of her career.
Washington leaned heavily on Pac-12 Player of the Year Krista Vansant who delivered when her team needed it most. Vansant had 14 kills in the fourth set alone and finished the night with 38 kills and 30 digs. She led all scorers with 39.5 points. Kaleigh Nelson put up 14 kills (7e, 54att, .130) and had seven digs while Cassie Strickland provided 11 kills (3e, 26att, .308) and 15 digs. Lianna Sybeldon had eight kills (3e, 23att, .217) and led the Huskies with seven blocks.
The Huskies advance to the championship site and will face second-seeded Penn State in one national semifinal. Top-seeded Texas and 12th-seeded Wisconsin will meet in the other semifinal. The 2013 championship is co-hosted by the University of Washington and the Seattle Sports Commission in conjunction with Key Arena. Semifinal matches are set for Thursday, Dec. 19 (4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. PT), and the championship match is set for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21. All matches at the championship site will be carried live on ESPN2.