Volleyball defeats Bruins in teams’ first matchup of season

Skylar Fields prepares to serve in USC's win over UCLA.
Senior outside hitter Skylar Fields has 210 kills on the season, adding 24 to her total in the Trojans’ win over UCLA. (Anthony Fu | Daily Trojan)

Women’s volleyball dominated crosstown rivals UCLA Thursday, earning a 3-1 win. The Trojans set the tone for the evening, winning the first set 25-22 and the second set 25-21. Sweeping the Bruins was at their fingertips for most of the third set, but UCLA won it by the skin of their teeth with a score of 29-27. Ultimately, USC picked up a Pauley Pavilion victory after winning the fourth set 25-21. 

The Trojans stepped onto the court confident with a three-game winning streak under their belt. Thus far, the team had earned an impressive 9-3 overall record, with UCLA being the first conference game of the season. The Bruins entered the day’s matchup with a 6-3 record overall, coming off of a 0-3 loss to the University of San Diego. Beginning their Pac-12 fight with crosstown rivals set the stage for an action-packed game. 

In the first set, the sea of blue made their presence known as they chanted for every play. 

“I love playing in front of big crowds like this, even when they’re booing us, I use that as a motivation,” said freshman outside hitter Jordan Wilson. “We really use that to push through this game.” 

Both teams’ desire to win was apparent as they matched each other kill-for-kill and dig-for-dig in the first set. Ultimately, USC won the first set 25-22, with every point a hard fought battle. With 17 kills and 9 digs, the Bruins could not keep up with the Trojans fighting spirit. Eight of those kills were earned by senior outside hitter Skylar Fields. 

After winning the first set, opposing chants rang through the stadium. 

“If they are booing us, let’s prove them wrong,” said Wilson. “If we lost this point, let’s get this next one.” 

This mentality remained true throughout the second set as USC once again displayed a dynamic performance. While UCLA led the second set in the beginning, after a timeout, USC found their rhythm and pulled ahead to win the set 25-21. The Bruins’ nine kills were no match for the Trojans’ 14. 

For the third set, the Trojans started off strong, leading throughout until the Bruins tied the game at 18-18. Relentless rallies and impressive movement on both sides made set three a tense yet thrilling one to watch. The Bruins won the set 29-27. 

“UCLA just touched the ball a little bit better and made that extra touch or play that allowed them to escape and get out of it,” said former UCLA coach and current USC Head Coach Brad Keller. “I felt good going into the fourth set of our mentality, who we were and how we were playing.”

Despite the set three loss, Wilson remarked that the Trojans used it as “motivation to carry into the fourth set.”

“We are gonna take over this. We are gonna shut them down,” Wilson said on the team’s mentality entering the fourth set. 

Late in the fourth set UCLA challenged a play, but officials ruled in favor of USC, keeping the score at 20-15 with USC in the lead. The Trojans held on to that lead and won the final set 25-21. 

The first Pac-12 game of the season for the Trojans featured a record-setting audience at Pauley Pavilion, creating a thrilling atmosphere. 

“I think anytime you have two rival schools getting after each other it always just adds a little bit more to it. It was a packed house, it was a great vibe,” said Keller. 

The Trojans returned to Galen Center on Saturday, but lost to Washington State in 5 sets. USC sits at fifth in the Pac-12 standings with a 9-4 overall record. They will host Colorado University next Saturday at 7 p.m. at Galen Center.