The USC women’s volleyball team dominated Colorado Friday before falling to No. 18 Utah Sunday to cap off its weekend road trip.
USC had complete control early on against Colorado. In the opening set, USC posted a .286 hitting percentage and collected 16 kills. Though the score went back and forth in the opening set, the Trojans were able to get the win and followed it up with a 25-20 victory in the second set.
CU took a quick lead in the third set and eventually finished it off to extend the match. The fourth set looked the same early on with the Trojans going down by four early, but they were able to bounce back for a 25-23 win.
Senior outside hitter Khalia Lanier had another impressive night with a total of 24 points and 21 kills. The versatile Lanier didn’t stop there, holding up solid defense with three blocks, three digs and one service ace.
As if Lanier’s game wasn’t impressive enough, she moved into sixth place for all-time career kills at USC with 1,643.
Junior outside hitter Brooke Botkin and senior middle back Jasmine Gross both had more than 10 kills and a combined 11 blocks in the win against the Buffaloes.
The Trojans were able to limit Boulder’s top offensive players en route to the win. The team played with exceptional rhythm, tempo and communication — attributes they had been missing in previous games.
Although USC won, Lanier said the team needs to work on avoiding deficits early in sets.
“I think the start is something we struggle with a little, even in the sets that we won,” Lanier said. “I think every set, you have to enter into it with the mentality that it’s 0-0. Even if you win and you came out with a hot start, you can’t expect that to flow into the next game.”
After the relatively smooth win, the Trojans learned a different fate and took a heartbreaking loss against the Utes. USC won the first two sets, but Utah stormed back and won the last three for the win.
The Trojans’ blocking in the first two sets was phenomenal, and they limited the Utes on defense when they needed a big run.
However, after the two sets, the Trojans allowed Utah to run away with leads for the rest of the match. The Utes limited the Trojans offensively, and USC struggled to get its rhythm back.
The team appeared rattled in the last few sets, and its defense could not slow Utah down as USC allowed multiple players to tally double-digit kills. Every time the Trojans seemed to be starting a run, they would get shut down by the Utah defense.
Sophomore setter Raquel Lázaro had a big day against Utah with 55 assists and her 10th double-double of the season. Still, her performance wasn’t enough, and USC could not manage the win.
“At the end of the day, during most games, it’s usually us not meeting the expectations we set for ourselves or losing focus sometimes,” Lanier said. “If we could learn how to coagulate our focus … that would be great for us.”
Lanier said the Trojans will be more focused on their own play than the rankings after the loss.
“I think we’re our biggest enemy a lot of the time,” she said. “If we can focus on ourselves and tweak the things we need to, we’ll have some success on the road against Oregon.”
The Trojans will look to bounce back from the tough loss when they visit Oregon State at 7 p.m. Friday and Oregon at noon Sunday.