There were 4,619 volleyball fans who piled into the Galen Center to watch the USC women’s volleyball team “white out” No. 7 UCLA, but after a five-set battle, No. 17 USC fell 3-2 (25-17, 14-25, 25-16, 17-25, 15-12).
It was USC’s third straight loss.
USC coach Mick Haley has said that this is the best group of Pac-10 teams he has seen in all of his years as a coach, and it is never guaranteed that the Women of Troy will pull out a win. Even with the loss this weekend, the Women of Troy continued to record solid statistics throughout sets.
“We only had four service errors in the whole game, which shows where we’re improving,” Haley said. “We were looking to improve with our blocking, and this game proved that we are getting better there.”
Sophomore outside hitter Alex Jupiter led the Women of Troy with 22 kills and 14 digs, followed by senior outside hitter Jessica Gysin with 13 kills and 17 digs.
Eichler tied her previous season high of 10 kills, and sophomore middle blocker Lauren Williams had eight kills and five blocks, three of them solo.
Sophomore setter Kendall Bateman had a career-high three kills and finished the night with 55 assists and 10 digs. Bateman is currently leads the nation in assists.
“It was a strange match,” Haley said. “We keep improving, but the conference keeps getting better. I thought when we executed we did really, really well. We just need to focus on the next six matches now and get ready for Washington.”
The Women of Troy began the match well, until UCLA’s outside hitter Kaitlin Sather managed to tie the first set 8-8, and the Bruins took advantage of three straight hitting errors by USC, taking the lead 11-8. After a exchange of solo blocks from Williams and junior middle blocker AudreyEichler, Sather added two more kills, and the Bruins won the first set.
Gysin initiated the Women of Troy’s lead in the second set, and after a couple back-and-forth kills by UCLA’s middle blocker Amanda Gil and Jupiter, Eichler recorded double solo blocks to gain a 20-12 lead, and inevitably win the second set.
The Bruin defense took charge of the third set after Jupiter’s backrow kill had USC trailing by two points at 8-6. UCLA’s blocking managed to give them seven quick points, a 16-7 lead, and eventually a second set win.
The battle was on in the fourth set, as Eichler and Jupiter built a 5-1 lead. A Women of Troy service error allowed UCLA to catch up, but their efforts were not enough, as Gysin’s three kills lead the Women of Troy into the fifth set.
Tied 7-7 in the final set, a ball-handling error called on the Women of Troy put UCLA back on top of the game. It only took a kill from Sather and blocking help from a teammate to allow them to take a 10-7 lead. The Bruins finished it off from there.
USC, however, is not giving up hope.
“We know that we’re not going to stop fighting,” Eichler said.