USC defeats Cal in four sets, snaps losing streak

Lázaro assisted Botkin for 19 of her game-high 22 kills as the Trojans evaporated the Bears defense.

USC got back in the win column as the Trojans defeated Cal 3-1 Friday night in Berkeley. The Trojans outperformed the Bears in every major statistical category; recording more kills, fewer errors and a better sideout percentage overall.

Senior outside hitter Brooke Botkin took command of this entire match. In addition to a game-high 22 kills on a staggering hitting percentage of 55%, Botkin added 11 digs to complete her incredible performance.

Botkin was one of two Trojans to record a double-double in this contest, the second being junior setter Raquel Lázaro, who finished with 39 assists and 17 digs. To put her assist numbers in perspective, the Bears had 40 the whole night. Lázaro entered this match with the fourth most assists per game in the Pac-12.

USC capitalized on its early-game momentum, winning the first two games of the match 25-15 and 25-20 respectively. Junior outside hitter Brooklyn Schirmer immediately made an impact, serving two quick aces in the first three points of set one. Sophomore opposite hitter Emilia Weske found success as well, scoring seven of her 10 total kills in these first two sets.

The pendulum swung on the Bears’ side during the third game. Cal went on two early 5-0 runs in this game, finding itself with a comfortable 13-5 lead. USC momentarily halted Cal’s stroll to victory, roaring back with a 19-17 lead of its own. Cal head coach Sam Crosson called a timeout to realign his team, and the Bears responded by scoring eight of the last 10 points en route to a 25-21 victory.

In the fourth and final game of the match, USC closed Cal out in dominant fashion. The Trojans used their 7-1 run to nearly double the Bears’ points this game with a 25-13 win. Sophomore middle blocker Aleksandra Gryka scored the match-clinching point, with a fastball pitch disguised as a service ace. Gryka entered Friday’s contest with the fourth-best hitting percentage in the conference, registering at 33.7%. Her nine kills at 50% hitting helped that average grow even more.

The Women of Troy and head coach Brad Keller will look to repeat this performance against the Bears Saturday at 3 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.