UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Senior All-America middle blocker Lauren Williams had 16 kills without recording an error for a .552 percentage (16-0-29) as the No. 2 USC Women of Troy opened the 2011 season with a thrilling five-set win (23-25, 24-26, 25-13, 25-21, 15-7) against No. 12 Minnesota at the Rockvale Outlets/AVCA Showcase. Senior All-America outside hitter Alex Jupiter posted a team-high 22 kills while hitting .327 (22-5-52) with nine digs and three solo blocks.
Senior All-America setter Kendall Bateman helped USC (1-0) with 54 assists, 11 digs and three blocks as the Trojans finished the match with a .289 hitting clip after dropping the first two sets. Sophomore outside hitter Sara Shaw registered a career-high eight kills and 8.0 points while freshman middle blocker Hannah Schraer made an impressive collegiate debut with seven kills and four blocks.
Tori Dixon led Minnesota (0-1) with 22 kills, hitting .410 with four blocks while Ashley Wittman added 18 kills and 16 digs. Mia Tabberson recorded 61 assists, eight digs and three blocks, but the Golden Gophers committed 13 service errors in the match.
USC had its troubles through the first two sets. Minnesota took a 13-9 lead in the first set after a USC hitting error. A USC timeout helped the Trojans, who went on a 10-4 run to take the 19-17 advantage on Bateman’s service ace. Wittman registered three consecutive kills to tie it at 22-22. Kirby Burnham’s hitting error gave Minnesota the lead, but a service error tied it again. Wittman put another one down and Tabberson followed with an ace to give the Golden Gophers the first set.
The second set played the same way as the teams traded blows, working to a 20-20 score. Cowles broke the tie and Ariana Filho gave set point at 24-22 for Minnesota. Shaw and Jupiter responded with kills to tie, but Dixon and Cowles terminated in back-to-back plays for the 2-0 Golden Gopher lead.
In set three, USC hit a blistering .560 (15-1-25) to get back into the match. A service ace from freshman Bria Russ made it a commanding 17-9 lead for USC as Jupiter sealed the team’s first set win with a kill. USC raced to a 13-4 lead in the fourth set before hitting errors aided the Golden Gophers’ comeback. Wittman would pull Minnesota within two at 19-17 but Williams came out of a timeout with the kill to stave off a rally. Shaw delivered from the left side to force a fifth set.
On Shaw’s serve, three Golden Gopher errors helped USC gain a 4-0 lead out of the blocks in the fifth set. USC had three blocks, capped by Jupiter’s solo stuff on Dixon with the Women of Troy leading 7-2. Williams added another kill as a Wittman hitting error made it 10-4. Filho hammered a shot in the middle for the Golden Gophers to make it 14-7, but Fuller finished the rally for the Women of Troy.