No. 1 USC completed its domination of the Pac-12 on Friday night, ending the regular season with a four-set win (24-26, 26-24, 25-21, 25-20) over No. 4 UCLA.
Senior All-American setter Kendall Bateman became USC’s career assists leader in the victory, recording 46 assists to add to her record-breaking total of 4,264.
The win over the Bruins (24-6, 17-5) marked a game in which the Women of Troy (25-4, 20-2) avenged an early-season loss to UCLA in their home conference opener before winning 20 of their next 21 matches.
USC had already clinched the conference title last weekend, but seemed to have plenty of motivation left for the season finale against its cross-town rivals.
Senior All-American outside hitter Alex Jupiter led USC with 18 kills, and junior outside hitter Katie Fuller added a season-high 16 kills.
Senior middle blocker Lauren William chipped in 10 kills while sophomore middle blocker Alexis Olgard posted a season-high six blocks.
Junior Rachel Kidder led the Bruins with 18 kills, but hit just .119 for the match thanks to 13 hitting errors.
USC had a 22-16 lead in the first set, but the Bruins reeled off a 10-2 run to stun the Women of Troy and claim the first set.
UCLA staged a similar comeback in the second set to tie the score at 24-24, but Jupiter and sophomore Sara Shaw prevented another USC collapse by racking up kills in the final two points to claim the second set for the Women of Troy.
Three straight blocks sparked USC to an 8-1 run that gave the team an 18-8 lead in the third set. The Bruins went on yet another late run before serving into the net at 24-21 to hand their rivals a 2-1 lead.
Tied up 17-17 with the Bruins in the fourth set, the Women of Troy took control on a kill from Shaw, and wrapped up the match after a net violation was called on UCLA on the final point.
The victory was USC’s eighth straight, and the squad has now defeated every team in the Pac-12. The Bruins are the only Pac-12 team the Women of Troy didn’t sweep at least once.
Still, the team did receive some disappointing news Sunday, when the NCAA tournament bracket was released.
Despite receiving 53 of 60 first-place votes in the latest rankings, the Women of Troy were given the No. 7 overall seed in the 64-team bracket.
That potentially sets up a tough quarterfinal matchup against No. 2 seeded Nebraska (24-4), the Big 10 champions.
As one of the top 16 seeds, USC will be able to play its four-team regional at home.
The Women of Troy are slated to play Ivy League champions Yale (18-6) in the first round Friday night at the Galen Center. If they advance, they will play either Tulsa (27-6) or Oklahoma (21-11) in the second round on Saturday night.