LOS ANGELES – The No. 1-ranked USC women’s volleyball team (30-2, 18-2 Pac-12) completed the regular season with a 3-0 sweep (25-11, 25-21, 25-19) of California (9-22, 3-17) at Galen Center on Friday, Nov. 27, to claim at least a share of the 2015 Pac-12 Women’s Volleyball Championship. It is the program’s eighth overall conference championship, the fifth Pac-12 crown, and the Trojans’ first since 2011.
Before the match began, the Women of Troy celebrated the careers of seniors Eve Ettinger, Alicia Ogoms, and Samantha Bricio as they suited up for their final regular-season home match at the Galen Center.
The Trojans were powered by another all-around performance from Bricio who registered 16 kills (1e, 32att) to hit .469. She also had two service aces, and two blocks for 19.0 points to go with eight digs. Bricio’s final kill of the match gave her 2,005 in her career and moved her ahead of Cal All-American outside hitter Hana Cutura for sixth place in Pac-12 history. She became the first Trojan ever to break the 2,000-kill mark and is just the seventh player in league history to do so.
Ogoms completed her final regular-season home match with seven kills (1e, 10att) for a .600 hitting percentage and led all players with five blocks. Bricio’s help from the pins came from freshman outside hitter Alyse Ford who had eight kills (2e, 16att, .375) with a service ace and a block; and from sophomore opposite hitter Brittany Abercrombie who finished with eight kills (2e, 13att, .462). Junior middle blocker Elise Ruddins collected four kills on nine swings without an error for a .444 hitting rate and had one of the Trojans’ seven service aces.
USC hit .452 in the match and produced 45 kills (7e) on just 84 swings. Freshman setter Baylee Johnson dished out 19 assists to go with five digs and had two kills and a block while junior setter Alice Pizzasegola had 20 assists. USC won the blocking game, 5-3, and held the Golden Bears to a .111 hitting percentage (27k, 18e, 81att). The Trojans got seven digs and a service ace from junior libero Taylor Whittingham and eight digs with two aces from freshman Victoria Garrick.
For California, Antzela Dempi led with seven kills (3e, 14att, .286) and was followed by Christine Alftin who had six kills (3e, 24att, .125). The Bears served four aces to counter the Trojans’ seven and got seven digs each from Maddy Kerr and Alftin. Lillian Schonewise nabbed five kills (4e, 15att, .067) and Lara Vukasovic had five kills (6e, 16att, -.062).
The Bears scored the first point of the match, but the Trojans quickly turned the tables and led by six at 8-2 on a crosscourt kill from Bricio. The avalanche continued as USC built a 17-4 lead thanks to a 9-1 run that included two service aces by Bricio and one by Whittingham. The Women of Troy opened up a 14-point gap at 20-6, and went up by 15 at 24-9 when Ford served an ace, Bricio killed an overpass off of Ford’s second serve, and then Ford earned a kill out of the pipe. The Bears could only save two set points before Bricio tipped a shot to the ground to complete USC’s 25-11 win.
Cal opened the second set with a different urgency and built three-point leads at 7-4, 8-5, and 9-6, but Garrick sandwiched a Bear error with her two service aces to complete a 5-1 USC run to give the Trojans a 10-9 lead. The lead changed hands seven times and the score was tied 10 times before the Women of Troy scored back-to-back points on kills by Ford and Bricio to take an 18-16 lead. Bricio bounced a ball off the ground and then teamed with Ogoms for the block to get the Trojans up by three, 21-18. Ogoms and Bricio then went back-to-back for kills for a four-point lead at 23-19. The Bears traded points down the stretch but Abercrombie collected the final kill of the set to finish off a 25-21 win for USC. The Trojans had 16 kills, two service aces, and two blocks to win 20 points in the second set.
USC seemed content to trade points with the Bears for much of the third frame. A kill by Ford only brought on the fourth tie of the set at five-all. The Trojans stayed within one or two points through the belly of the set until back-to-back kills by Bricio swung momentum to the USC side of the net and gave the Trojans their first lead at 18-17. At the end of a 6-0 run, USC led by three at 20-17. The Bears scored two more points to pull within one at 20-19, but the Trojans stepped on the gas and scored the final five points with three kills from Bricio and a block by Abercrombie and Ogoms. A Cal error sealed its fate and closed out a 25-19 win for the Trojans.
The Women of Troy reached the 30-win mark for the fourth time under head coach Mick Haley (2002, ’03, ’12) and will now await selection into the 2015 NCAA DI Women’s Volleyball Championship. The selection committee will announce its field of 64 teams during a live selection show on ESPNU on Sunday, Nov. 29, at 6 p.m. PT. USC has appeared in 24 consecutive NCAA tournaments and has played in 32 championships all-time.
For more information on the USC women’s volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCWomensVolley on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.
· USC improved to 54-12 all-time against California with a 28-3 record in home matches.
· The Women of Troy secured at least a share of the Pac-12 championship with their win over the Bears. It is the eighth conference title for the program, the fifth Pac-12 (and Pac-10) crown, and the first Pac-12 title since 2011.
· The Trojans improved to 96-10 all-time when ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll.
· USC reached the 30-win mark in a season for the fourth time under head coach Mick Haley. He previously led the Trojans to 30-win seasons in 2002, ’03, and ’12. It is Haley’s 12th season with 30 wins at the NCAA Division I level and his 17th overall. It is the ninth time in program history that USC has won 30 matches in one season.
· After being selected to finish fifth by the Pac-12 coaches in a preseason poll, USC will finish no worse than in a tie for first in the conference.
· USC’s .452 (45-7-84) hitting percentage was its highest against a Pac-12 opponent this season. Previously, the Trojans hit .400 against Oregon (51-5-115) on Oct. 25.
· Senior OH Samantha Bricio became the first Trojan ever to breach the 2,000-kill mark and reached 2,005 with her final kill of the match. She is just the seventh player in Pac-12 history to record 2,000 kills in a career and passed California’s Hana Cutura (2,004 kills, 2006-09) to move into sixth place in league history.
· Bricio became just the second Trojan ever to score 700 points in a single season. She reached 704 points and is second to just Asia Kaczor (745.5 points in 2007) for the school record. She also moved into second on the school-record ladder for kills in a season with 578 (Kaczor; 659 in 2007).
· Senior OH Eve Ettinger was a member of the 2011 Trojan squad that won the program’s last Pac-12 title (the first ever for the newly-formed 12-team conference).
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