The USC women’s volleyball team took a tough five-set loss to UCLA Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion.
The Trojans came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. They executed kill opportunities and played effective defense, taking the first set by a wide margin of 25-12.
The second set was a different story. The Bruins jumped out to an early 4-point lead, and service errors helped cause the Trojans’ comeback attempt to fall short.
The third set didn’t go quite as USC planned, either. The Trojans struggled to find their rhythm and, like the rest of the game, were plagued by service errors. Sophomore setter Raquel Lázaro led an inspired comeback effort by diving all over the floor on defense, but it wasn’t enough.
After jumping out to an early 1-0 set lead, the Trojans had given it up and trailed 2-1.
The fourth set was an entirely different story as USC appeared to get its rhythm and chemistry back. A back-and-forth frame ultimately ended in the Trojans’ favor, 28-26, with the help of strong kills and key defensive stops.
Despite serving first in the fifth set, the Trojans struggled. UCLA’s offense took off and USC had a hard time slowing it down. After finding themselves stuck with an early deficit, the Trojans started mounting a comeback, but the hole proved too deep. They lost the final set 15-12 and the match 3-2.
Though USC lost in its first Pac-12 game of the season, head coach Brent Crouch said after the game that he isn’t worried about his team in the long run.
“We think we’re a better team than what we showed tonight, and I don’t think we’re lacking in confidence,” he said.
The team struggled to serve effectively all match, piling up 21 service errors. While the Trojans also struggled to communicate, senior middle blocker Jasmine Gross found a silver lining in their ability to nearly pull out a victory despite not playing their best game.
“It’s cool because we have so much to improve and we were still so close,” Gross said. “So I think if we keep working everyday in practice [and] just on those little minor adjustments … if we clean up the tiny little things then you can prevent that from happening.”
USC’s schedule doesn’t get any easier from here. Gross and Crouch both agreed that the team will need to execute much better to take down 10-2 Arizona on Saturday.
The Trojans picked up a hard-fought 3-2 victory the last time the two teams matched up, and USC is 65-22 all-time against the Wildcats. However, USC is still getting back into its rhythm after injuries disrupted the start of its season, and the Wildcats have opened the year on fire.
Arizona has a strong defense that has tallied 606 digs this season in addition to 33 solo blocks.
The Trojans hope for a packed Galen Center in their second home conference game of the season.
“Volleyball is a fun sport and I don’t think people really understand,” Gross said. “It would be amazing if people could come support us … the crowd obviously helps a lot.
The Trojans enter the match a perfect 3-0 at home this year and hope to extend this streak starting Saturday at 7 p.m.