After suffering its first loss of the season, the No. 3 USC women’s volleyball team looks to get back into the victory column this weekend, as it will take on Pacific Northwest rivals Washington and Washington State.
The Women of Troy, who currently hold a 13-1 record this season, will face off against the No. 5 Huskies on Friday night in Seattle before concluding their trip against the Cougars Sunday morning in Pullman. The matches will be the first road games the team will face in Pac-12 play.
After a resounding four-set victory over No. 4 and crosstown rival UCLA on Sept. 19, the Women of Troy came into last Friday night’s home match against Oregon with superb momentum, but struggled on both sides of the ball and suffered their first loss and sweep of the season.
Although the team inched closer to the Ducks in the final set, they fell short of victory, dropping the match 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-23). The loss marked the first time in 22 years that the Ducks triumphed over the Women of Troy on the road. Senior opposite hitter Katie Fuller, arguably the team’s most consistent contributor so far, led the squad with nine kills, while freshman outside hitter Samantha Bricio logged seven.
Besides Fuller and Bricio, only two others recorded at least five kills, while Oregon saw three players record double digits.
“I take responsibility for this outcome as much as the girls do,” USC coach Mick Haley said. “We just weren’t prepared against a very good Oregon team.”
While it had not been enough of a factor to cost the team wins, offensive inaccuracy finally caught up with the Women of Troy, who attacked at a mere clip of .189. The second set particularly doomed the team, as they registered an attacking percentage of just .036 while notching just 15 points. Conversely, Oregon maintained offensive consistency throughout the match, attacking at .357 and twice surpassing .400 in a set.
The first set saw four ties but no lead changes, as Oregon jumped out in front and never looked back for the 25-19 win. Senior outside hitter Katherine Fischer put together a particularly strong set, notching six kills and the terminating shot to claim the set for the Ducks.
Oregon committed just two errors for the frame, and attacked at a game-high .486 percentage.
The second set saw mistake after mistake from the hosts, as the Women of Troy struggled to develop a rhythm. USC quickly saw its early 4-3 lead evaporate, as the Ducks recorded leads of 8-6 and 13-7 before finishing off the set and holding the Women of Troy to just 15 points.
The third frame was the most competitive effort from the Women of Troy, but the team fell short and dropped the set 25-23. The set featured six lead changes and 14 ties, but
USC failed to build on an early 9-7 lead and fell down the stretch. Senior outside hitter Alaina Bergsma recorded nine of her match-high 18 kills in the set to finish off the Women of Troy.
As the team gears up for its weekend matches, Haley is particularly looking for defensive improvements.
“We absolutely need to improve the blocking. We’re facing a couple of good teams this weekend and we must focus,” Haley said. “I’d like to get more from Alexis Olgard, I’d like to get more from Natasa Siljkovic and I’d also like to see more from the youngsters like Hannah Schraer and Alicia Ogoms.”
Following their trip to Washington, the Women of Troy will return to the Galen Center to take on Arizona on Oct. 5 and Arizona State on Oct. 7.