If the box score said it all, No. 11 UCLA women’s volleyball would have been on the right side of a 3-2 victory over crosstown rival USC.
But despite out-hitting the No. 21 Trojans (9-3, 1-0 Pac-12) and trumping them in nearly every statistic, the Bruins (7-3, 0-1) couldn’t pull out the win at home in their conference opener. It was just UCLA’s second five-set match of the year – the other was against Hawai’i on Aug. 27.
The Trojans and Bruins rallied back and forth for much of the first set, but a mid-set run put UCLA in a hole it couldn’t completely get out of. Senior opposite hitter Brittany Abercrombie and junior blocker Brittany Welsh each carried USC through the first set, accounting for eight points.
UCLA rebounded in the second and third set, claiming both sets handsomely – the Bruins took the second set 25-15 and the third 25-18.
The Trojans roared back in the fourth set, taking an early 9-4 lead. UCLA battled, winning three straight points, before seceding the next four, trailing 13-7 at that point. The Bruins couldn’t muster up a comeback despite winning back-to-back points multiple times, tying the game two sets apiece.
By that point, Abercrombie and sophomore pin hitter Khalia Lanier had had enough. Abercrombie crushed three kills in the first five points of the fifth set, while Lanier helped the Trojans extend their lead to 8-2.
Down 14-8, the Bruins made their final push, stringing together three points before Lanier notched the dagger.
Freshmen pin hitters Jenny Mosser and Mac May each struggled throughout the match, hitting .184 and .250 on the night, respectively. The rest of the UCLA squad flourished, combining for a .301 hitting percentage.
But it wasn’t enough to foil USC.
The conference schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Bruins. And one of the toughest matchups could be Friday against No. 8 Oregon (8-1, 1-0). The Ducks’ lone loss came against then-No. 1 Texas early in the season.
Oregon has dominated every other team on its schedule, boasting a .311 hit percentage collectively and winning five straight matches via 3-0 sweeps.
While the Ducks’ leader in kills is junior pin hitter Lindsey Vander Weide, three of their best hitters have been more efficient. Sophomore pin hitter Willow Johnson and senior pin hitter Taylor Agost, along with sophomore middle blocker Ronika Stone, are all hitting better than .320 overall.
Recent history would give UCLA the advantage, as it is 4-2 against Oregon across the past three years. But the Bruins have lost three of four and the Ducks have won seven straight.
This is your UCLA women’s volleyball vs. Oregon game thread.