It’s always a thrill to beat a crosstown rival. The only thing the Women of Troy love more than beating the Bruins once? Beating them twice.
The No. 6 USC women’s volleyball team defeated the Bruins in five sets on Friday, sweeping the season series and closing out the season by winning 11 of its final 12 matches.
“I think just everybody’s getting more comfortable together,” said USC head coach Mick Haley. “We’re maturing. We handle adversity well.”
The win did not come easily for the Women of Troy. They fell behind early, as UCLA came out strong and took the first set, 25-20, after closing out the game on an 8-2 run.
“[UCLA] hadn’t lost a match this year at home when they’d won the first game,” Haley said.
The Women of Troy bounced back and took the next two sets, 25-21, 25-20. But UCLA came back and won the fourth set, 25-20, largely thanks to Bruin outside hitter Bojana Todorovic, who recorded 10 of her 21 kills in the fourth game.
USC went down 3-0 early in the fifth set but pushed it to a 3-3 tie after back-to-back kills by middle blocker Lauren Williams, who dealt the final blow to the Bruins with another kill with the score at 14-13, giving the Women of Troy the win in the set and the match.
Although pleased with the win, Haley said he was not completely satisfied with his team’s performance.
“I think we competed really well. I don’t think we played all that well,” Haley said.
“Everybody made some kind of contribution, but nobody seemed to be 100 percent on their game.”
Freshman outside hitter Falyn Fonoimoana led the Women of Troy with 23 kills, tying her season high. Junior All-American Alex Jupiter recorded a double-double, adding 17 kills and 15 digs.
“Each one of them contributed significantly to our win,” Haley said. “I thought Alex’s defense was exceptional. I thought Falyn really stepped up offensively.”
Williams added 12 kills, while freshman middle blocker Alexis Olgard posted eight kills and a season high of nine blocks.
USC has now played in eight five-set matches and won all but one of them.
“It certainly helps the self-confidence,” Haley said. “The freshmen get in those matches sometimes, and they get a little scared, but we’ve stepped up in every one of those five game matches with the exception of our second one up in Washington.”
Another thing the Women of Troy have in their favor as they move into postseason play? Their depth.
“We have people coming in off the bench who can certainly help us,” Haley said, who added, “I feel like we’re doing everything right right now.”
This can only help the Women of Troy as they prepare for their upcoming matches this weekend.
USC earned the No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament, a luxury that will allow the team to potentially host two games at the Galen Center.
The Women of Troy will face off against New Mexico on Friday at home. A victory in that match will allow them to host the winner of Friday’s match between San Diego and Long Beach State.
“I think that’s about as good as we could have hoped for,” Haley said, regarding the team’s seed. “The fact that we get to host at home is very good. We’re right where we want to be.”