LOS ANGELES -- Senior Karsta Lowe led all players with 22 kills and UCLA head coach Michael Sealy earned the 100th victory of his coaching career, as the 20th-ranked Bruins swept No. 9 USC at Galen Center on Tuesday in the Pac-12 opener. Set scores were 25-23, 25-13, 27-25.
The Bruins (10-2) hit .291 for the match, as senior Julie Consani recorded 39 assists and five digs. Lowe hit .357 and added six digs, while freshman Reily Buechler tallied 10 kills and swung at a .348 clip. Freshman Olga Strantzali posted seven kills. Defensively, sophomore Taylor Formico had 12 digs, junior Rachel Inouye added 10 and junior Karly Drolson tallied five digs.
With the victory, UCLA increases its lead to 20-0 against USC in the SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup.
Set 1 featured 16 ties and five lead changes, but the Bruins came out on top. UCLA’s largest lead of the opening set was three, while USC’s biggest edge was one. The first time either team led by more than one was when UCLA led 14-12 following two of USC’s 12 errors in the set. With the Bruins up 16-14, the Trojans netted a 4-1 run to take an 18-17 advantage.
With UCLA down 19-18, a 5-1 run by the visitors gave the Bruins their biggest lead of the set at 23-20. A kill by sophomore Claire Felix, a combo block by Strantzali and senior Zoë Nightingale and a USC attack error made it 21-19, and after a Trojan sideout, a Strantzali kill and another USC attack error made it a three-point lead. A Strantzali kill gave the Bruins three set points, but USC saved the first two. However, Lowe’s set-best fifth kill of the opener closed out a 25-23 victory. Buechler and Strantzali each added three kills in the first, as the Bruins out-hit the Trojans .235 to .206.
Despite four ties, the Bruins never trailed in the second. With the score even at four, UCLA produced a 15-4 run to blow it open. Six of the 15 points came on Lowe kills, while Buechler added two kills. The Bruins also had a Buechler/Felix combo block, kills by Felix and Strantzali and benefitted from four USC errors.
The Trojans scored the next two to briefly get their deficit below double figures, but a service error and a Strantzali kill got the lead back above 10 for good. At 23-13, back-to-back USC errors finished off a 25-13 victory. Lowe led the Bruins with nine of their 14 kills, as they out-hit the Trojans .545 to .207.
It was another deuce set for the Bruins in the third, as they came out on top to finish the sweep. Up 7-6, a 5-1 UCLA run made it 12-7, as Lowe had two kills and Consani one, while USC committed two errors. The Trojans got the next two points, but a 4-0 UCLA run on two Buechler kills, a Nightingale kill and a Felix/Lowe block put the Bruins up by a set-best seven at 16-9.
Still up by seven at 20-13, USC came all the way back to even the score at 23. A Lowe kill gave the Bruins their first match point, but two in a row for the Trojans gave the home team a set point and their first lead of the set. Kills by Lowe and Buechler gave the Bruins their second match point and Lowe’s set-best eighth kill of the set wrapped up a 27-25 win. Buechler added five kills and no errors in nine attempts, as the Bruins out-hit the Trojans .213 to .171. Formico posted six digs.