OMAHA, Neb. – The 18th-ranked USC women's volleyball team (4-1) pulled off an upset 3-0 sweep (26-24, 25-16, 25-18) of seventh-ranked tournament host Creighton (4-1) at the 2017 Bluejay Invitational presented by First National Bank at D.J. Sokol Arena on Saturday, Sept. 2. It was the first sweep of the season for the Women of Troy and the first since USC took down California in straight sets on Nov. 12, 2016.
The Trojans were led by a stellar 23-kill performance by sophomore outside hitter Khalia Lanier (three errors, 42 attempts). Lanier hit at a .476 clip and added seven digs and a service ace to her final line. Junior outside hitter Alyse Ford added 11 kills (three errors, 22 attempts, .364) with five digs and a service ace. Senior opposite hitter Brittany Abercrombie had nine kills (one error, 23 attempts, .348) and senior opposite Niki Withers tacked on six kills (three errors, 15 attempts, .200).
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On defense, junior libero Victoria Garrick led all players with 22 digs. The Trojans hit better than .350 for the fourth time (in five matches) this season (54 kills, 13 errors, .116) thanks to the setting of senior Reni Meyer-Whalley (26 assists) and sophomore Cindy Marina (22 assists). Meyer-Whalley added eight digs. Off the bench, sophomore defender Jenna Adams had seven digs and three assists.
For the Bluejays, Megan Ballenger had 11 kills (two errors, 18 attempts, .500) and Marysa Wilkinson added nine (one error, 18 attempts, .444). Jaali Winters took 27 swings but was held to four kills (two errors) and a .074 hitting rate. Winters led Creighton with nine digs. The Bluejays won the blocking battle by a 7-3 margin but the Women of Troy had a 54-42 edge in digs for the match.
The first set was tied 16 times, but the Women of Troy had a 23-21 lead before the Bluejays fought back to push USC to the brink. The Trojans saved one set point and went on to earn a 26-24 win to go on top, 1-0. USC out-hit Creighton, .241 to .200, in the first frame thanks to 11 kills with a .455 hitting rate from Lanier. The Women of Troy began to pull away midway through the second set and rolled to a big 25-16 win with nine more kills from Lanier. The third set began as a back-and-forth battle, but USC earned a 14-10 lead and then ran away for a 25-18 win to seal the sweep.
The Trojans conclude the Bluejay Invitational against No. 13 Kentucky (4-1) at 6 p.m. CT (4 p.m. PT) later today, Sept. 2, at D.J. Sokol Arena in Omaha, Neb. The Women of Troy have never lost to the Wildcats (4-0).