No. 6 USC bounced back from a loss to No. 4 Pepperdine to beat crosstown rival No. 5 UCLA in a five-set match on Saturday’s Senior Night.
Senior outside hitters Ryan Moss, Jack Wyett and Gianluca Grasso had 16, 13 and 12 kills respectively. Wyett had five digs and three blocks, while Grasso added seven digs. Senior libero Matt Douglas totalled a match-high 12 digs. The Trojans remain undefeated at home in 2019.
The Bruins scored the first 2 points of the match and kept their lead for most of the first set, although the Trojans trailed closely behind. However, UCLA pulled ahead at the end and the Trojans couldn’t quite catch up for a 19-25 set finish.
The momentum started in USC’s favor in the second set with the Trojans scoring the first 3 points. They maintained their lead until the Bruins caught up and tied the game 7-7. The score was tied up again at 8-8 and 9-9 until the Trojans began to pull ahead once more. USC finished the set on top, 25-15.
UCLA dominated the third set, scoring the first 4 points before running the score up to a 12-point lead. The set finished 14-25, Bruins.
The fourth set stayed tight, with neither team gaining clear dominance. But USC managed to pull ahead enough to come out on top 25-20.
The teams traded leads for most of the fifth set until USC took a 3-point lead at 13-10, and Wyett’s kill won the set 15-11 to secure the victory over UCLA.
“It was not a pretty win by any means,” Douglas said. “We didn’t play as [well] as we know we can. But we pulled out all the resilience we’ve accumulated throughout the year and just came together in the perfect moments.”
Junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah led the Bruins with 21 kills and seven digs. Senior setter Micah Ma’a added 18 kills, 7 digs, three blocks and 3 aces. Sophomore middle blocker Grant Maleski served 3 aces of his own.
Douglas said that dealing with adversity has allowed the team to grow over the course of the season. Heading into playoffs next week, the Trojans’ look to stay hot.
“[We will focus on] enjoying the success we’ve had, but not being complacent,” Douglas said. “Kind of taking a little reset and just striving to be hungry because we haven’t had a playoff push in a while now, and I think we’re due for one.”
Grasso led the Trojans in their match against Pepperdine on Thursday with 12 kills while hitting .556. Wyett added 11 kills and Douglas had 8 digs.
The Waves jumped out to an early 7-2 lead and ran with it to win the first set 25-16. In the second set, USC managed to gain a 9-6 lead but couldn’t maintain it and Pepperdine pulled ahead to win the set 25-23.
Redshirt senior outside hitter David Wieczorek had 13 kills hitting .571 to lead the Waves in their 3-0 sweep over the Trojans. Senior outside hitter Kaleb Denmark added 11 kills for Pepperdine, senior outside hitter Michael Wexter added 10 kills and 5 digs and senior middle blocker Max Chamberlain put up 4 aces.
These two matches end conference play for the Trojans as they move on to playoffs. USC secured the No. 3 seed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament and will host No. 6 seed Grand Canyon 7 p.m. Saturday in North Gym.