It was a hard fall from grace for the Women of Troy (7-2) after their recent string of successes, especially with the loss coming at the hands of their archrival, the Bruins.
“Today was combination of us not playing great and them playing really well,” Gallien said. “Our team is pretty darn experienced and we went out and played singles and lost.”
Another strong doubles showing, along with senior Maria Sanchez’s 17th consecutive singles victory, wasn’t enough for USC to push past UCLA’s talented bunch.
Although the match would start in the Bruins’ favor with a lopsided 8-0 victory for Noelle Hickey and McCall Jones against USC’s No. 10-ranked squad of sophomore Valeria Pulido and junior Alison Ramos, the Women of Troy quickly took the doubles portion with wins by Sanchez and freshman Kaitlyn Christian, and Lyndsay Kinstler and sophomore Danielle Lao tandems.
The singles matches, however, would yield far different results for Gallien’s squad.
Despite another stellar performance by No. 2 Sanchez, who beat McCall Jones 6-2, 7-6 (9), USC wouldn’t break through in any of the other five singles matches.
The usually consistent No. 18 Lao went down quietly in straight sets to UCLA senior Noelle Hickey. Throughout her 6-3, 6-3 defeat, Lao never seemed to get in any groove and exhausted most of her energy just trying to get herself back into contention.
Staying in the third slot, Christian saw her four-game winning streak snapped by UCLA’s No. 64-ranked senior Andrea Remynse. The 6-3, 6-1 loss for Christian guaranteed a Bruin victory, keeping Remynse’s record a perfect 6-0 in the third slot.
“The girl she played was, in my opinion, their best player,” Gallien said. “She might lose maybe two matches the rest of the season. Kaitlyn didn’t play her best and I think that over the long haul she’s going to do a good job at the higher slots.”
Gallien shuffled the lineup around once again this week, moving the red-hot Pulido to the No. 4 spot, where she squared off against UCLA sophomore Pamela Montez.
Pulido would see her eight-match streak snapped in quick fashion in the first singles match of the day, which ended 6-3, 6-1. Montez picked up her 20th win on the season and is looking to find herself nationally ranked once again.
It seems Ramos really can’t catch a break, losing her fourth consecutive match to No. 121 Courtney Dolehide of UCLA. A 10-point tiebreaker was needed to decide the victor as Ramos finally fell 6-3, 5-7 (10-7) in the final match of the day.
Relegated to the fifth spot, Ramos has found it difficult to finish games, especially against more physically-imposing players, such as the 6-0 Dolehide.
“Sometimes [it’s like] the old saying that if it wasn’t for bad luck we wouldn’t have any luck at all. She was fourth last year, and she’s lost some really tough matchups,” Gallien said of Ramos’ recent struggles. “At the end of the day she’s a really good player and if she keeps her head up it’ll turn around.”
Despite the tough loss, Gallien had only positive words for both sides.
“When it all goes on and shakes out, UCLA is probably a top-5 team in the country,” Gallien said. “We have every intention for our team to beat them when we meet them at home.”