After dropping the first two matches on Thursday against No. 2 Long Beach State, the No. 4-ranked Women of Troy battled back to tie up the score, but ultimately could not overcome the 49ers, who took the deciding match to capture a 3-2 win.
In similar fashion to the Pepperdine match, the Women of Troy (9-4) would once again get behind early, going down 2-0 just 30 minutes into dual play.
In those matches, the No. 4-ranked USC pair of senior Natasa Siljkovic and junior Brooke Fournier fell in straight sets 21-14, 21-10 to the 49ers’ Lauren Minkel and Jocelyn Neely. In flight five, Long Beach State’s Janisa Johnson and Tyler Jackson defeated USC’s sophomore Alexa Stonish and junior Sam Hirschmann in straight sets, 21-15, 21-19, behind 10 combined aces from the 49er pair.
Long Beach State (7-1) looked to clinch early in the No. 3-ranked match and, after winning the first set soundly, 21-14, this appeared to be the case. However, the resilient USC pair of sophomores Eve Ettinger and Bria Russ would rally back to win the second set 21-18 behind eight kills in the set by Russ. They would then hold off the 49ers’ Delainey Ainger-Swesey and Libby Fontanilla in the third set, winning 15-13 to capture the point for the Women of Troy and keep them alive in the team match.
The momentum would then carry over to the second flight, where USC’s senior Katie Fuller and freshman Cinnamon Sary defeated Long Beach State’s Bre Mackie and Chelsea Cabrajac in straight sets 22-20, 21-18, leaving it down to the top flight to decide the dual.
In the deciding match, the top-ranked USC pair of graduate student Stevi Robinson and junior Kirby Burnham dropped the first set, 21-17, to Long Beach State’s All-American duo of Catlin Ledoux and Tara Roenicke. But Robinson and Burnham recovered to win the second set by the same score and carried that momentum into the third set.
They captured a 4-1 edge early and then held an 8-5 lead before Long Beach State pulled back to tie the set at 12. Ultimately, the 49ers would take a 14-13 lead and not give it back, going on to win 16-14 after an attempt by Robinson sailed just long.
“Unlike against Pepperdine, we stayed in the match,” USC head coach Anna Collier said. “We just couldn’t pull this one out.”
In the match, Robinson led the USC effort with 24 kills; Ledoux had led for the 49ers with 24 as well.
With the loss, USC now drops to 0-2 on the season against Long Beach State, losing both duals narrowly by a score of 3-2. USC also remains winless against teams ranked in the top three in the nation.
The Women of Troy will have some time off in order to prepare for the top-ranked Pepperdine Waves, who defeated USC at home earlier this week 4-1 to keep their undefeated winning streak alive. The Women of Troy will be on the road this time, as they head up to Malibu to play the Waves on April 6.