Second-ranked USC takes down top-ranked UCLA to remain unbeaten
LOS ANGELES -- USC's opposite Katie Fuller knocked down 21 kills and posted a .444 hitting percentage to power the second-ranked Trojans to a 3-1 win (28-26, 25-20, 24-26, 25-17) against top-ranked defending NCAA champion UCLA. The Trojans remain perfect on the season (13-0) and the Bruins fall to 8-2.
Fuller's 21 kills matched a career high, but the Trojans got a major contribution from outside hitter Samantha Bricio, who also matched her career mark with 19 kills to go with three service aces. Setter Hayley Crone notched a new career best with 53 assists and added four kills on second contact and six digs.
USC's middles connected well with Crone as Alicia Ogoms put down five balls for a .556 hitting percentage. Middle Alexis Olgard added six kills and outside Sara Shaw had nine kills and 11 digs for the Trojans. Libero Natalie Hagglund had 21 digs to lead the team.
For UCLA, Rachael Kidder led the way with 18 kills while Bojana Todorovic led all players with 22 digs. The Bruins also got offensive contributions from Tabi Love who had 14 kills and Karsta Lowe who had 13 kills.
In the first set, the Trojans emerged with a 28-26 win after Bricio tooled a shot off the UCLA block for set point. The Bruins did themselves in with an error on the final play of the set. USC tied the set for the fifth time at 22-all off a Bricio service ace, but the lead changed once more and the set was tied four more times before a winner was decided. Through that 10-point rally, Fuller logged a pair of kills and UCLA's Mariana Aquino knocked down two balls on quick sets. The Trojans put up a .298 attack percentage in the first set with 19 kills on 47 swings while UCLA logged 19 kills on 39 attacks for a .333 hitting percentage.
The Trojans didn't trail in the second set and led by as many as six points at 13-7 when Bricio bounced a shot off the floor and again at 15-9. The Bruins stayed within striking distance and were down by just three points when Kelly Reeves went crosscourt for a kill. Bricio earned another kill on a cut shot to make the score 20-16, and notched her third service ace of the match for a 22-17 USC lead. Ogoms tipped a ball to the floor off a quick set from Crone to push the Trojans into set point at 24-19 before Fuller tooled the UCLA block for the final point of the set. The Bruins had 17 kills and posted a .359 attack percentage but were still out-paced by USC's .378 attack rate on 37 swings.
The third set saw 13 tie scores and three lead changes before the Bruins put away a 26-24 win. The Trojans never led by more than a single point, and trailed UCLA by as many as four points at 13-9 when Kidder tooled an attack off the USC block. The Trojans trailed until a Lowe attack went wide to tie the score at 19-all. UCLA went ahead by a point three times before Shaw went down the line for a kill to knot the set at 23-all. Love's kill gave the Bruins set point but Fuller saved it with a kill. An overplayed ball led to another UCLA kill before the Bruins closed out the set. UCLA attacked at a .351 rate in the third and had 17 kills on 37 swings. The Trojans had 16 kills on 37 attacks for a .297 hitting percentage.
The fourth set opened up with the teams trading points to eight tie scores before a Lowe attack hit the net to give the Trojans a 9-8 lead. Bricio sent a shot down the line on the next rally and the Trojans never looked back. USC continued to build its lead as Bricio and Fuller logged five points together to pull the Trojans ahead 18-12. Shaw served up an ace to give USC its largest lead at 20-12 before UCLA claimed a pair of points, but the Trojans sealed the deal as Olgard and sophomore setter/opposite Emily Young teamed up to block Kidder's last plea for a 25-17 USC win. The Trojans held UCLA to a .100 hitting percentage in the fourth set with just 10 kills against seven errors and stayed ahead of the Bruins with 13 kills on 30 swings.