Among a record crowd of 5,385 fans, one could actually hear the groans coming from the Galen Center in between each of USC’s unforced errors.
No. 8 UCLA capitalized on every single mistake, every single error and swept No. 9 USC in three sets, 19-25, 17-25, and 17-25.
“Quite honestly, our team didn’t play well,” USC coach Mick Haley said. “We didn’t execute well, and it was disappointing the way we seemed to give up.”
The Women of Troy (5-3, 0-1) could not get into a rhythm, struggling to consistently string together any type of offense. Senior outside hitter Alex Jupiter finished with nine kills, although she also had seven errors and senior middle blocker Lauren Williams finished with eight kills but committed six errors. Sophomore libero Natalie Hagglund finished with 17 digs.
Led by the play of UCLA senior setter Lauren Van Orden, who finished with 32 assists, six digs and four kills, the Bruins capitalized on USC’s mistakes.
“We certainly lost both the serving game and the passing game,” Haley said. “We violated our fundamentals, which are not to give points to the other team. We gave way too many free points.”
Haley pointed to the third game as a microcosm for the entire match, where things looked like they could turn in favor of the Women of Troy. In the end, however, they did not.
“We missed the opportunity in the third game, when we broke their momentum and neutralized it,” Haley said. “We should have been ready to take advantage of that, [but we didn’t] recognize it.”
The schedule doesn’t get much easier for the Women of Troy, either, as they face the No. 5 Washington next week on the road.
“We have to work very hard on the serving and passing game,” Haley said. “Our blocking is really not good right now … That’s what we’ve been working on, and it didn’t show tonight. We have to look at how we’re getting after it. If we need to change, we need to change, but we have a lot of work to do.”
Haley did see a few positives following their performance.
“I got a lot of the freshmen into the match,” he said. “And in this kind of a situation, I would hope they would grow from that … We’re just going to have to get tougher.”
The Women of Troy are playing more freshmen than the coaching staff anticipated, as Haley believes that since a lot of the games weren’t close towards the end, it made sense to put in younger players to help them develop.
The Women of Troy take on Washington in Seattle on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. and Washington State on Sept. 17.