The women’s volleyball team collected two more wins at home last week to improve to 20-7 on the season. The No. 17 Women of Troy surged past No. 15 Utah on Thursday night 3-1 and narrowly edged No. 25 Colorado 3-2 on Saturday. With the two victories, USC moved to 10-1 at home and 12-4 against Pac-12 conference opponents this year, and the team rose to No. 14 in this week’s AVCA Coaches poll.
The Women of Troy played a five-set thriller against the Buffaloes on Saturday afternoon. USC raced out an early 10-8 lead, but a 7-1 Colorado run shifted the momentum in the first set. The Trojans responded with a 7-2 run of their own to take a slight 18-17 lead. But crucial attack errors allowed the Buffaloes to break off another 7-0 run to seize a 24-18 advantage, and they eventually claimed the first set 25-20.
The Trojans rebounded in the second frame, leading by as much as 9 points to tie things up with a 25-17 win. The third set was an extremely close battle, as neither team could gain a distinct advantage with several tied scores and short-lived leads. USC tied it late at 24 and took brief 1-point leads, but the Buffaloes never gave up, knotting the set up at 26-26 and later 27-27. Eventually, a kill by Abu Naghede and a USC attack error gave the Buffaloes a 29-27 third-set win.
The Buffaloes took an early 3-2 lead in the fourth, but the Trojans responded with a devastating 18-3 run to take a 20-3 lead, and they surged to a 25-11 win to tie the match 2-2. Despite trailing 8-6 early on in the final frame, the Women of Troy rallied back with a 9-3 run to clinch the match with a 15-11 fifth-set victory.
The Women of Troy were led by sophomore outside hitter Khalia Lanier, who recorded a double-double with 21 kills and 14 digs on a .333 hitting percentage. Freshman opposite hitter Brooke Botkin chipped in 14 kills on .290 hitting percentage, and senior opposite hitters Niki Withers and Brittany Abercrombie combined for 21 kills. The team collectively had a .257 hitting percentage and 60 total kills in the win, while senior setter Reni Meyer-Whalley and sophomore setter Cindy Marina fueled the attack with 23 assists each.
Battling Utah on Thursday night, the Trojans quickly took advantage, establishing a 13-8 lead in the opening minutes. After the Utes stormed back to tie it at 18, USC used a 7-3 run to take the first set 25-21 behind successful kills from Abercrombie, Withers and Lanier. The second set remained close as the two squads battled to a 9-9 stalemate early on, but the Trojans built a 3-point lead and never looked back, taking the set 25-17.
Utah rode an 8-1 run in the middle of the third frame to win 25-18 and cut into USC’s lead. The fourth set was a close battle as both teams exchanged leads early on, but the Trojans used a critical 5-0 run to take a 11-7 lead behind three kills in four plays from Botkin. While the Utes kept close with the Trojans throughout the rest of the set, USC eventually took the set and match with a 25-22 victory.
Lanier once again led the Trojans with 17 kills on a .304 hitting percentage while Abercrombie collected 16 kills. Withers and Botkin combined for 21 kills in the win, while
Meyer-Whalley recorded a double-double with 32 assists and 12 digs. Marina added an additional 15 assists. USC recorded 10 blocks, led by senior middle blocker Jordan Dunn’s seven block assists.
The Women of Troy only have four matches left in the regular season, as they wrap up against Stanford, Cal, Oregon and UCLA in the coming weeks. After the wins against Colorado and Utah, USC hits the road for three consecutive tilts. The team will return to the Galen Center to face UCLA on Nov. 25 for its regular-season finale.