The women’s volleyball team welcomed No. 6 Washington to the Galen Center on Sunday, as USC geared up for a stiff challenge from the reigning Pac-12 champions. Though the two teams battled closely throughout the match, the Women of Troy pulled off an upset in style, sweeping the Huskies in three sets with scores of 25-20, 25-21 and 28-26.
A Trojan upset didn’t seem imminent, however, when Washington found itself up 19-16 late in the first set. But USC turned the tables with a 9-1 run to shock the Huskies with an opening-set victory. Senior opposite hitter Brittany Abercrombie, senior opposite hitter Niki Withers and sophomore outside hitter Khalia Lanier combined for six kills in the final 7 points to swing the momentum in their favor to begin the match.
The Women of Troy rode similar bursts to a win in the second set. Three unanswered points broke a 5-5 tie, and another 3-0 run gave USC the edge when Washington tied the set at eight apiece. The Trojans didn’t relinquish their advantage from that point, and they took the second set 25-21.
The final set was a much tighter affair, as the Huskies tied the score seven times after USC edged in front. But the Women of Troy refused to fall behind, even as the set extended past 25 points. They came up short in 3 match points, but senior middle blocker Jordan Dunn came up with a kill to set up a fourth. Finally, an ace from Withers sealed a 28-26 third-set win and sent the Huskies home. With the victory, USC rose to No. 15 in the AVCA Coaches poll while Washington slipped to No. 9.
The Women of Troy were unable to take a single set against Washington when the two teams met last season, but they returned the favor in 2017 thanks to a balanced attack. Abercrombie recorded 13 kills, Withers put down 12 kills and Lanier added 11 more. Abercrombie’s strong day, combined with her 13-kill match against Washington State on Saturday, earned her Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second consecutive week. Overall, the Women of Troy recorded a .214 hitting percentage while holding the Huskies to .131, spurring the team on to its first straight-sets victory over Washington since 2011.
The balanced offensive effort also came with equally strong defense. Leading the back row was junior libero Victoria Garrick, who had 13 digs alongside her eight assists. Lanier and Meyer-Whalley also added 12 digs each. Though the Huskies out-blocked USC 11-5 on the day, the Women of Troy also had eight more digs as a team, recording 58 to Washington’s 50.
Meyer-Whalley earned her fifth consecutive double-double this match, raising her career tally to 14, while Lanier’s 11 kills and 12 digs sealed the sophomore’s 20th double-double in Cardinal and Gold.
The Trojans continue Pac-12 play on the road next weekend, facing Arizona State and Arizona. They will face the Wildcats first on Friday night before traveling to Tempe for ASU on Saturday.