After dropping its first home game of the season to the No. 24 Washington State Cougars, the USC women's volleyball team travels to Boulder to face Colorado on Friday.
Despite a late push in the second half of the match, the Trojans were unable to overcome the Cougars, falling in five sets. Stellar performances from senior outside hitter Khalia Lanier, who earned a season-high 23 kills and 25.5 points, and senior libero Raegan LeGrand who posted a career-high 25 digs, weren’t enough for the Trojans to come away with a win. This was USC’s first home loss of the season and its first loss to the Cougars in Los Angeles since Oct. 16, 1998.
USC remains unranked in the AVCA Coaches Poll with an 8-6 overall record and 2-2 in conference play. The Trojans currently rank fifth in the Pac-12, tied with six other teams.
While the season hasn’t gone exactly to plan for the six-time national champions, many Trojans put up impressive numbers during Sunday’s defeat. Junior outside hitter Brooke Botkin took 52 swings and earned 18 kills, while sophomore setter Raquel Lázaro continued to prove her leadership on USC’s offense. Lázaro totaled 46 assists with three kills of her own.
On the defensive side, Lanier and senior middle blocker Jasmine Gross had big nights at the net, with Lanier adding five blocks -- a career high for her -- and Gross securing nine. The pair’s defensive presence will be essential for a USC win on the road at Colorado.
The Buffaloes look to turn their season around in this conference home opener, after falling to four conference opponents in a row: Utah, Oregon State, Arizona State and Arizona.
Most recently, Colorado was swept by the Arizona Wildcats 3-0, bringing the team to 8-6, the same record held by the Trojans. However, unlike USC, Colorado has struggled with attacking, hitting below .200 in every Pac-12 match thus far.
Colorado’s senior outside hitter Justine Spann provides the Trojans’ biggest threat with a hitting percentage of .230. She averages four kills per set and has been the Buffs’ leading hitter with 192 kills this season.
While the Trojan defense will likely focus on shutting down Spann, other key players for Colorado include the freshman duo of middle blocker Sterling Parker and outside hitter Jill Scheneggenburger. Parker and Scheneggenburger combined for 13 kills and 13.5 points last weekend against Arizona, playing an instrumental role in the Colorado attack.
This match will prove crucial for both sides, as the Buffaloes hope to turn the tide on their Pac-12 play and the Trojans look to separate themselves from the six-way tie in the Pac-12.
USC leads the all-time series record 16-1 and has won nine of the last 10 matchups between the two sides. Friday’s match may come down to the wire, though, as the squads with identical records battle for momentum.
The Trojans will take on the Buffaloes on Friday at 6:00 p.m. at the CU Events Center in Boulder, Colo. The match will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Network.